"Everything should be made as simple as possible..but not simpler." Albert Einstein

wool wood and leather

Corten Dress + wood facet necklace(fir) : U N f/w piece collection

For my fall collection I’ve been working quite a bit with different kinds of wool: wool jersey, wool fleece and roving.  I’m also working with leather (belts!)  and wood!  It’s been exciting trying out different materials and techniques.  Feels a bit like alchemy with all the dying and felting (and even some burning) going on.

I will  have some of my new fall collection in the U N shop in the next few weeks.  And my annual fall trunkshow with the entire collection at Gallery 360 here in Minneapolis will be the third week of October.

Also,  SCARFSHOP is set to open this coming Tuesday, September 28th.  finally!


I’ve had textile and pattern design on the brain lately for another project I’m working on.  I thought I would compile some of the patterns/textiles I’ve designed to see how they look as a group and to see if I can see any cohesion.

I’m really enjoying seeing the fabric patterns Jennifer from Ermie has been developing, especially the magic marker print.

Karen Barbe is a textile designer from Chile whose blog I recently stumbled across.  I really like the range of materials she is exploring.  These woven bands are really beautiful.

slowing down

This weekend we went camping with some friends just north of Stillwater, MN along the St. Croix River.  I got home from teaching about 7pm on Friday evening, we loaded up the car and headed out very early Saturday morning.  My head was still full of projects at home and the assignment my students were working on.  I had some readings I needed to review for class.  I felt agitated to be leaving my work.  The camping spot is just an hour away from home so there was no period of adjustment.  We were in the city and then we were in the woods.  Luckily it feels very remote.

There is something very calming about camping.  It is so controlled.  You bring the minimal amount of things you will need: one fork, one plate, one cup, one pot.  You set everything out in it’s place.  You build a fire to cook on, you cook your meal, you eat it, you clean up.  And all of this becomes the major activity of the moment, not something that needs to be done before you can go on to the major activity.

Saturday evening I was washing the dishes and I had one of those moments where you are very aware of what you are doing.  I had to heat the water, mix it with some cold in a tiny basin and then wash each dish individually, rinse it with a spray of water from my water bottle and set it on a towel before starting the next dish.  It was slow and methodical and I realized I didn’t feel annoyed by this.  I wasn’t thinking about anything except the beautiful evening light on the water in the basin and how the colored spoons looked as I wiped them.


handknit (wool, alpaca, acrylic, cotton) fawn + rust hat from UN f/w 2010 piece collection

piece -one of the parts that, when assembled, form a whole.

Where a collection begins for me is always different.  There might be a color palette, photograph, or piece of fabric that sparks an idea and then the collection builds from there.  At a certain point there is a more defined idea, sometimes with a title, that helps me continue developing the overall body of work.  This fall I had been planning on scaling down the number of items that I normally produce for a collection because I wanted to focus on getting a season ahead -working on a more developed collection for next year so that I could align myself better for the wholesale market.

I had a few ideas of pieces I wanted to make, but not an overall concept.  I kept thinking about these individual pieces, and leftover materials I had, and the idea of “using up” and zero waste.  I tried to look at what I had and let it dictate what I would make.  And also, most importantly, I pushed the process of just making and responding to what I made and moving forward from there.  I decided to have faith that everything would come together to form a “collection”.  So that is how I’ve been working.  And I’m excited about these “pieces” and this way of working.

I hope to show you rest of the collection soon.

loop vest from UN f/w 2010 piece collection

fabric patterns

Ever since last spring when I had my first fabric design printed, I’ve been wanting to design more.  This is a design I’ve been working on for awhile.  I like both the asymmetrical and symmetric versions and can see how they would work well for different applications.  I’m going to use the symmetrical one for a scarf, but I think it would make an awesome dress too, with the pattern centered. You could also wrap the pattern around to the back, so the center of the design is on one side….

So many options.  I think I just fell down the rabbit hole….

zero waste

garment scarf -UN f/w 2010 collection

Every time I cut a garment out of fabric I am struck with the pile of fabric scraps I have left over.  I always save them (I have bins of these) thinking someday I will make a quilt or incorporate them into another garment or give them to friends, etc.  I’ve done a little of this -the children’s scrap series dresses were based on using up scraps.  But there are just too many to use up.  The estimate is that 15% of fabric in the clothing industry is wasted.

In my s/s 2010 collection I started experimenting with garments made with zero waste.  The rectangle dress was made this way.  While it’s probably my favorite piece in the collection, and I wear the one I made for myself quite a bit, it does have a strange shape and fit.  Loose, boxy and architectural.  Definitely not for everyone.

In the sustainable fashion world there is a growing movement of people working with zero waste patternmaking.  One of my favorites is Yeoh Lee, whose work is simple and understated but full of texture and rich fabrics.  Some of the designers favor elaborate patterns that fit together like a puzzle to eliminate waste when cutting.  I tend to prefer simple pattern shapes that are draped on the body, creating new silhouettes and volumetric proportions.  I’m continuing to explore this way of working, going slowly and using very simple shapes.  The above “scarf”, made of deadstock cotton knit, is my latest attempt.  This really couldn’t be simpler and can be worn in several ways.  I think it would be great layered over a loose, patterned dress.

There was recently an article in the New York Times about zero waste design.  It mentions a new class that is being held this fall at Parson’s school of design.  I so wish I could take it.

make, respond, repeat

I had been dying wool, trying to achieve an overall textural effect -something like asphalt -from an image I just had in my head -but wasn’t working out.  Finally I threw it into the dryer and went to bed.  In the morning I looked at it with fresh eyes and saw what it was instead of what I wanted it to be.  At that point I actually started laughing because it really looked nothing like what I was trying to get and because of that I couldn’t see that it was actually sort of interesting.

I’ve been getting ready for the new teaching semester to begin next week and this issue of making and responding to what you make rather than trying to preconceive something and then make it is one of the main issues about process we emphasize in the studio.  Maybe I need to tape it to my wall so I don’t forget again.

I also remembered this early spring image I had taken of asphalt and snow and texture.  The shibori lines in this wool piece remind me of a line drawing I did of the photo, trying to capture the lines in the texture.  I had been meaning to try getting this texture using a dyeing technique, and here is is.  It always surprises me when things in my process come back around like this.  An old instructor of mine called this working like a rhizome.