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Katie Berman and her textile adventures.

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A growing collection of Katie Berman’s musings including collaborations, thoughts about textiles, tutorials and more.

Filtering by Tag: yarn

TIPS FOR DESIGNING YOUR NEXT PUNCH NEEDLE PROJECT

Katie Berman

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For my friends who have been with me for a hot second on my creative journey, you know that punch needle is my latest, greatest obsession.

And for those who I’m just meeting-- Hi! I’m Katie and I’m in love with punch needle and tufting techniques…

One inquiry I get most often when teaching my punch needle workshops is how do I go about making a design for my next project.
I mostly work in the abstract and find that I work best just doodling shapes and going with the flow. 
But I know that not everyone is like me and needs more of a game plan going into a new project.

So this one’s for you, my planners! Here are 4 tips for designing your next amazing punch needle project.

Start with large, simple shapes. Use your color and texture choice to bring the impact and detail!

Start with large, simple shapes. Use your color and texture choice to bring the impact and detail!

Less is More

When brainstorming your next design to translate into punch needle texture, less is always more. Yarns that are punched into fabric have a tendency to bloom and spread (what the heck is blooming?? Don’t worry-- I’ll go over this in our next tip!). This means that designs that have lots of fine line detail can get lost in translation and won’t show up in the way you may have imagined in your mind’s eye. A go-to resource I tell my students is to look at coloring book designs. Coloring book designs are usually made up of large, uncomplicated shapes. They may look simple, but don’t be fooled. It’s the coloring that counts, right?! My suggestion is to choose simpler shapes and then fill them with all the color you want! Don’t be afraid to make your shapes larger in scale as well.




These two samples are the same design. The flat stitch side looks nice and crisp, but the pile side is blooming blob.

These two samples are the same design. The flat stitch side looks nice and crisp, but the pile side is blooming blob.

Give Yourself Space 

This tip goes back to my note about yarn blooming. Blooming is a term that refers to a yarn’s tendency to spread out when it is in its final state. This is a word you hear a lot in knitting, but also has a place in punch needle and tufting. As you punch, you are forming loops with your yarn on one side of your fabric. Those loops-- called pile-- spread and fluff and take up a ton more space than expected. This is what I mean by “blooming”. When you’re putting your design elements together, make sure to give yourself space between your shapes. This becomes super important in botanical or floral designs. Closely packed leaves may look awesome from your flat side, but become a huge loop blob on your pile side.

Pick a Side (or Don’t!): Flat Side vs. Pile Side

One of the reasons I love punch needle is the various textures you can make at such an efficient pace. This variety of textures can come from making your piece dual sided. Some folks only love the flat stitch look, some only love the textured pile look. I’m not usually one to pick sides-- I want the best of both worlds! I tend to draft designs that incorporate both flat stitches and loop pile to give diversity in my punching. When designing, think ahead to the texture you are wanting to accomplish. Flat stitches can allow for more fine line detail while loop pile lends itself well to chunky texture. Mixing them together can help to bring dramatic depth and push certain design elements to the forefront of your work.

I wanted the pot and leaves of my potted plant to pop, so I made sure those elements were created with loop pile and surrounded the potted plant with flat stitches to really push those elements forward. You can start to see the difference in depth between my orange pot and the neutral stripes on the pot.

I wanted the pot and leaves of my potted plant to pop, so I made sure those elements were created with loop pile and surrounded the potted plant with flat stitches to really push those elements forward. You can start to see the difference in depth between my orange pot and the neutral stripes on the pot.

I wanted the word “light” to be created with a loop pile. This means that I had to trace out the word “light” on the back side of my foundation cloth backwards in order for it to be legible on the other side.

I wanted the word “light” to be created with a loop pile. This means that I had to trace out the word “light” on the back side of my foundation cloth backwards in order for it to be legible on the other side.

Think Backwards

If you’re wanting to punch out phrases or words of affirmation, make sure you are tracing them onto your foundation cloth in the correct orientation. As you punch, the image on your pile side is a reflection of the stitches you are making. When creating words that you want to be legible from the pile side, you’ll need to punch out these words backwards so that they are reflected properly on the other side. Take a peek at my example pics.


Alrighty, friends! Those are my top 4 tips for drafting punch needle designs.
I hope this helps you as you journey into your next project! 

 

Need some help getting your creative juices flowing? I’ve made all of the punch needle designs pictured above into templates just for you! Enter your email address in the form on the right to download these punch needle templates! Happy making! 

Download these free templates!

Download these free templates!

 



5 DESIGN TIPS FOR BUSTING YOUR STASH

Katie Berman

Designing Within Limits While Busting Your Stash

My latest stash busting creation.

My latest stash busting creation.

When I started teaching my Intro to Macrame class, my students always ended up with little bits of excess rope and trimmings when they completed their pieces. Working in the textile industry, I’m very aware of the waste that comes from textile production. In my efforts to not contribute to that waste, I would bag up the rope bits and take them home with me. I couldn’t throw them away or give up on them! I kept them in a bag on my shelf that just kept growing and growing. In fact, I now have a whole shelf in my studio dedicated to excess bits from past projects and classes. 

Now, before I hear some of you start whispering words like “hoarder”, I know that I’m not alone! I know you’re out there and have your own little-bits-of-rope shelf. You know that shelf. The place where material bits that are too big to trash and too small to really make a full project out of live. Those materials may not be sitting in the landfill (hooray!), but they’re still just taking up space in your home and that’s no good either. 

This year, I’ve been working on busting through my stash and reducing the amount of new materials I purchase for projects. This de-stashing includes those little bits from my shelf. I’m happy to share that I’ve finally started going through significant portions of my stash and, oh buddy, does that half empty shelf look goooood! 

Through this process, I learned a few design tips and methods to think through as I stash bust and I thought I would share those tips with you. Designing and creating with things in your stash can get a bit challenging, but not to worry. With a little open-mindedness and out of the box thinking, you can do this! 

So, my wanna-be stash busters, it’s time to pull out those materials that you’ve been saving and make them into something beautiful! Here are my tips for designing within limits so that you can bust that stash.


Design Tip #1: Konmari Your Materials

I’m sure you know who Marie Kondo is. Her method of organizing and “sparking joy” is so popular now that we use her name as a verb! If you’ve read her book or seen her show, you know that her first step in organizing is pulling out all of the items that you’re looking to de-stash and pile them up in the same room together. 

And that’s our first step in stash busting. Pull out all of the yarns, fabrics, bedazzle gems, beads, what have you, and pile them all up in the same place. You can’t bust through your stash if you don’t know the breadth of what you have. Marvel at your pile and then get ready to start planning your next masterpiece!

This is all from the same rope source. This can be unwound and made into softer groups of cotton. The small shredded bits are leftover trim from my tassels that can be used as stuffing!

This is all from the same rope source. This can be unwound and made into softer groups of cotton. The small shredded bits are leftover trim from my tassels that can be used as stuffing!

Design Tip #2: The Materials Are Not What They Seem

Much of this process is thinking creatively and pushing the limits of the materials that you have. When looking at your pile, start to think about all of the ways it could be used or transformed. 

Got a crap ton of yarn in your pile. Psh, that’s not just yarn! That can be shredded into stuffing for small toys. Or made into little pom pom decorations for your next shindig. Or used as swatching yarn for knit or crochet patterns you’ve always wanted to try (like my Cable Collection project I’m working on). 

This macrame wall hanging I created was made only from excess rope. Some of it did stay in its original rope form, but some of it I shredded up to make those awesome fringe tassels. 


Secret, secret. I’ve got a secret!

Secret, secret. I’ve got a secret!


Design Tip #3: Designate Materials As Star Roles or Supporting Roles

Not all materials need to be at the forefront of your design. Over time our tastes might change or our color palettes have shifted. Materials that take up space in my stash are those that are colors that I can’t seem to work into my current color palette. 

For those materials, I’ve started to use them as fillers-- or supporting roles, if you will-- behind my star role elements. See those tassels. You know what’s behind them? Weird yarn from my stash! To give differing heights in my tassels, I used fillers in between the rows so as not to use up my limited supply of rope. Does the yarn color coordinate with my neutral vibe in this wall hanging? Who cares! You can’t see them! And you’d never know they were there if I hadn’t told you… This opens up a whole new world for stash busting. 

Design Tip #4: Embrace the Unusual

Remember Tip #2 about thinking creatively and pushing the limits with your materials? This applies to your design elements too. Don’t be afraid to embrace the unusual and get weird. For me, that’s embracing patchworking. In order to make some serious strides in busting my stash, I’ve had to learn to patchwork and graft materials together. It feels strange in the moment, but exploring new patchwork methods has broadened my creative scope and tastes.  

 

Design Tip #5: Think on Your Feet

There may come a time where you overestimate the amount of materials you have dedicated for your chosen project and you run out. 

Firstly-- well done! You’re busting through your stash like a boss!

Now it’s time to think on your feet! Incorporate them into something else or graft more materials in. I overestimated how much soft rope I had for shredding into tassels. When I ran out, I changed directions and grafted those tassels into a larger work with a different rope I had left in my stash. The end result was still within my design aesthetic, but just came about in a way I didn’t expect. 



Well friends, those are my tips for designing within limits. 
Are you ready to bust into your stash, keep things out of the landfill and broaden your creative scope?
I think so. Let’s do it! 

Have your own tips on stash busting? Share yours below!





Falling in Love with Knitted Cables (and Swatching…)

Katie Berman

My Cable Collection Project

This one goes out to my cable-loving knitters! Raise your hand if cables are your favorite go-to in your knits.

They are becoming mine and fast! I was so intimidated for so long, but once I started to experiment with them last year, I realized there was nothing to fear. And I wanted to learn more. I’ve been eyeing the most beautiful cables book from my LYS (Thanks, Freeman’s!) and finally bought it.

Behold, Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook.

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It’s everything I could have dreamed and hoped for. It’s chock full of the most amazing cable patterns I’ve ever seen. And by chock full, I mean 152 cable patterns and variations. Whaaaaaat.

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To help me from getting overwhelmed, I paged through the book and picked out 54 cables that I’m going to swatch over the next few months. I’m wanting to use this as an exercise to practice knitting cables (obvi), improve my chart reading, and build up a personal cable library to choose from for my next knitting projects that I have on my list for the fall. Hopefully I’ll begin to like swatching a bit more by viewing it as an exploration instead of a chore… Plus, this’ll be a great way to bust through my stash of excess yarn!

I’m committing to knitting at least 3 swatches a week and I’ll be sharing some updates, pics and notes every month on my little cable collection project.

Stay tuned, friends!
— KB