The Sweatshop of Love Blog

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October, 2012

Halloween and Vogue Knitting Live Chicago!

From Detroit I Megabus’ed to Grand Rapids to visit my family. From Grand Rapids I Amtrak’ed to Chicago to party really hard at Vogue Knitting Live and for Halloween!

Me and Lily!

Vogue Knitting Live was really fun! My friend Lily Ubbelohde of The Owl and the Bee and I met up and hit preview day on Friday and went back on Saturday for fashion shows and more yarny shopping.

Vogue Fashion Show

One of the best parts was catching fashion shows throughout the day. Naturally Lily and I were right up front, texting like Anna Wintour and shielding our eyes from the bright runway lights like Heidi Klum. It was so fun to see so many knits from Vogue, Skacel, and other designers and yarn companies close up and styled for the runway.


And naturally the shopping was pretty awesome! I snagged a skein of green Madelinetosh for a new winter hat, and splurged on a Soak Box! It was also amazing to put a ton of faces to twitter accounts and blogs. I got a chance to meet and chat with Cirilia Rose, Shannon Okey, Rohn Strong, Ann Weaver, and hang out with my friends Lori and Ann Leachman, and made a new friend in Kirsten of Kalanag.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum

And, magically, it was Halloween weekend in Chicago, and the absolute best place to be in the world for Halloween. My friend (and new blogger!) Tara Shade had the amazing idea to rock the Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum couples costume, and rock it out we did.

Jerome George Washington!

Only to be outdone by Tara’s dog Jerome dressed as George Washington. But if you are going to be outdone, you might as well be outdone by a dog dressed as George Washington!

RIP Baseball Season 2012

Last night my beloved Tigers got beat by the Giants in the World Series. It’s the second time I’ve watched them get annihilated in the World Series, and this year I took it a lot better. I think because this has all just been bonus baseball! The Tigers never looked like a World Series bound team, so since like mid September when they started playing well and we all started to think MAYBE they could make it, it’s just been a crazy fun ride.

Double Dipping

The most wonderful thing ever? When you have to pull your second TV out of the closet because you have playoff baseball to watch on football Sunday.

Rain OUT!

I was lucky enough to go to Detroit last week for the Championship Series! We partied through a game 4 rain out.


Then partied through a warm and sunny game 4 Yankee sweep the next day to become American League Champions! And it was one of the best things I’ve ever gotten to see live.

So this morning I’m sad that they couldn’t make it happen, but feeling so lucky to be so miserable. Only one team gets to lose the World Series, and that was my team! Everyone else has been without baseball for weeks now.

But tonight at 7pm when I’m looking for a movie to watch instead of tuning into my baseball game it will really sink in. Summer is over. I’m baseball-less until March, when I can be obsessive/miserable/excited/happy all over again.


Meet Homestead Heirlooms!

I first found Homestead Heirlooms this spring at a yarn festival, and I knew right away I wanted to work in one of their handles into a purse design.


For my latest design, Multiplicity from the Holla Knits Accessories Collection, uses a Homestead Heirlooms 45″ purse handle, and I’m so in love! It really sets the knit purse apart from other purses I’ve made and makes it look super professional.

Get a peak into this amazing business!

1. For those who haven’t heard of Homestead Heirlooms, please tell us a little bit about your business.

Homestead Heirlooms, was founded in 1992 with God’s blessing to provide quality instruction and products that exemplify hand works of days gone by. Initially, work revolved around basketry, lace-making, custom sewing, and the crafting of Ukrainian Eggs. As of January 1, 2002 Homestead Heirlooms became Homestead Heirlooms, LLC. Two best friends, Karen & Lori, with a combined weaving experience of 35 plus years, decided to formally go into business together. Over the last 7-8 years folks making knitted bags, or felted bags, or quilted bags requested variations to our handles which has driven us to change our focus to the manufacture of leather handles, bag finishing hardware and leather accents.


Homestead Heirlooms Booth

2. How did you get started? 

It’s a God thing. We were working at a christian camp in northern Wisconsin, helping them to figure out how to use all the varied crafts in the craft building. While demonstrating the making of leather wristbands, it occured to us that leather handles on baskets would be a fun thing. So, when we returned back to home we called our favorite basket supplier Carole Kaeding of Gratiot Lake Basketry ( and asked her if we made some leather handles for baskets would she order some… “Sure, send a 100 pair.” and we were off and running.  In about 2004, the knitters and felters started finding us and asking if we could make handles for them… .sure… now more than half of our customers are knitters or felters or folks working with wool.

3. Is this a full time job for you?

Lori & I work on making handles full time. More hours on weekends when we are off to Sheep and Wool Festivals and other shows from New York to California, and less on days when there are Rummage Sales…. 🙂


Kitty Mess!

4. What is your workspace like?

Lori & I work from my home, mostly in the porch or at the kitchen table. The handle supplies are stored here, the basketry supplies are stored at Lori’s. My home and porch are heated with a wood burning stove in the winter and cooled with fans in the summer. My cat, Hector, helps with shipping and packing.

5. What is your favorite craft to utilize your handles? Knitting, crocheting, sewing, quilting?

Our handles work great on any sort of bag you might be making. We have so many options for attaching handles that we can usually work out something for whatever folks are making.



6. Has anyone used one of your handles in a way that surprised you? An amazing finished purse that someone created that really stands out for you?

Fire Poi handles were the most unusual.  One of our favorite bags is a wet felted and embellished water bottle carrying bag which was made by a happy customer in exchange for more handles.

7. If you weren’t running Homestead Heirlooms, what would you be doing?

I would probably be working at a sewing store or antique store somewhere and spending more time sewing and weaving. Lori would most likely be running a Bed and Breakfast with a coffee house on the side or cooking at a christian camp in Northern Wisconsin…. She’s much more of a morning person than I am….

FO: Tufted Pillow

Last week I showed off my tufted bench pillow, and today I’ve got more tufted pillow action!

Tufted Square Pillow

Much more like the original inspiration, this square pillow is perfect for the top of an unused square end table that is pushed up against the window. It’s a great place for a kitty that likes to lay around and look out the window all day.

Comfy Kitty!

Complete with piping along both edges and a 2″ thickness of side cushion all the way around, Pudge fell in love with this pillow as soon as I put it in its place.

Fun, Quilted Look!

I used the same material I used for the tufted bench, just moved it around a little to make it similar but not too matchy-matchy. They look great together, and the cats couldn’t be happier. And neither could I! Can you believe how great that pillow looks?! I nailed it!

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FO: Tufted Bench Pillow

It’s no surprise to anyone that I love my cats. One of the prerequisites for our new apartment was that it had big window sills because both my kitties love sitting in the windows and watching the birds. So when our new apartment had kinda skimpy window sills but a gigantic radiator cover in front of our bayish windows, I knew one of my first craft projects would be to make a radiator cover pillow for kitty sleeping.

Radiator Cover Cushion!

And do it up I did! I found this Square Tufted Floor Pillow tutorial on pinterest and used the general idea of it to make this cushion happen! I knew I wanted it to be tufted, and I wanted to use piping along the edges, so I read the tutorial, then spent a long time deciphering the tutorial. I’m not the best sewer, and I don’t know a lot of terminology and materials that go into sewing, so I had a really hard time trying to figure out what Don was saying! And freaking ONE picture? Give me a break!


So I did what I do best – mostly wing it. I dug out all my fabric and picked out 5 different mostly matching prints – one for the bottom and four for the top – and one solid for the buttons and piping. My bench is 60″ long and 14″ wide, so I cut out a 61″ x 15″ strip of fabric for the bottom, and four 15″ by 16″ almost squares for the top. Then I cut a LOT of 3″ wide strips of fabric for the piping.

Velma Loves It!

I followed the piping instructions exactly. There was a diagram so that made it really easy! I found a package of 10 yards of cable cord at JoAnns for like $4, and that worked perfectly. I ended up getting a queen sized quilts worth of polyester batting and cutting it into layers of 60″ x 14″ strips instead of the foam since it was crazy expensive. I assembled the top of the cushion, pinned my piping on it, sewed it, then attached the top to the bottom on 3 sides. I laid in my layers of batting and hand sewed along the entire back of the cushion. I made my fabric covered buttons in the same fabric as my piping and attached them together with yarn and a tapestry needle through the center of each of the four squares.


And it worked brilliantly! The cushion has that perfect balance of country crafty that I was going for with the quilted look, and professional craftsmanship with the nice piping and matching tufted buttons. And when we have people over it’s adds more seating to the room. Yay me!

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