Textile & Surface Design: Weaving

Recently I’ve been trying out different forms of textile design, specifically dyeing and weaving. The process of weaving is quite tedious and takes a lot of your time and dedication to execute properly.

I started out experimenting different weaving techniques on a 4 shaft table loom. Before I created anything, I thought it was best to experiment with all the different patterns there are, as well as different color combinations for the warp (vertical threads) and weft (horizontal threads) designs. I highly recommend doing this before you attempt to create any real pieces such as scarves, hats, or any type of clothing.

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To begin the weaving process, you first have to make a warp design which is the vertical color scheme in whatever you are weaving. If you want the width of your finished piece to be a certain amount of inches, you must multiply that amount by 15. Therefore, if you want a width of 6 inches, you must make a warp of 90 yarns. You then can design a warp of whatever colors you want, as long as they all add up to 90 yarns. (example: 30 red, 30 yellow, 20 blue, 10 green). I designed my warp to be 10 inches in width, consisting of a pattern of 75 camel yarns, 15 purple yarns, 15 camel yarns, 30 dark drown yarns, and 15 camel yarns. Then you must decide how long you want your fabric to be and add 25% to the that length. For example, if you want your piece to be two yards of fabric long, you need the weft to be 72 inches plus 25 percent, or a total of 90 inches long. I made my scarf 80 inches long, so I cut my yarns to be 100 inches long. After you’ve figured out the dimensions of your warp you can begin to dress the loom.

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Bacon & Butternut Squash Risotto

This recipe is a few things. It’s the ultimate autumn risotto. And the ultimate Sunday brunch and/or dinner risotto. And the ultimate hungover I-can’t-do-anything-but-listen-to-music-and-cook risotto.

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Which is exactly what happened this past Sunday. I’ve had a bacon and eggs risotto on my mind for a while now, and after waking up on Sunday I couldn’t find the ambition to do anything other than finally make it. Luckily, I had all of the necessary ingredients on hand (except wine…) after making risotto for a few friends earlier last week, and was also able to pick through my CSA and see what I could use up.

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This risotto follows basic risotto format––with a few tweaks. I roasted the butternut squash until charred and added it in at the end rather than cooking it with the rice. Like I mentioned earlier, I was out of white wine; as a substitute, I splashed a bit of Icelandic vodka and rice vinegar in the pan to deglaze, which actually worked quite fine. I also upped my soffritto game with a mixture of red onion, fresh sage, whole toasted cumin seed, and the smallest dash of Maharajah curry powder; it lets you know that this isn’t a light dish in any way. In fact, it’s comfortingly decadent… especially when topped with a butter-fried egg, crispy fried sage leaves, a massive slice of bacon, and some shards of parmesan cheese. This is a dish you make when it smells like winter is closing in, but it still looks like this outside. (Now.)

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Acorn Squash & Chickpea Curry

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It feels––it smells––like October right now. Fall is still here, but it’s a bit windier, a bit brisker, and my CSA now contains squash and kale instead of heirloom tomatoes. For the last few weeks, my housemates and I have had a verifiable harvest of different squashes on our kitchen table––them waiting to be eaten, us waiting for it to be cool enough to do so. Well, it’s time.

curry3In London last semester, my flatmate Sophie used to make a chickpea korma curry that was simple enough to throw together after a long day filled with lecture, tutorial, and commute but also comforting enough to make you want to fall right asleep after. This recipe is an ode to that, but with a ton of local vegetables instead of whatever was on sale at Sainsbury that day. It’s a wild combination of roasted acorn squash, chickpeas, spices, and tahini. It’s also vegan––and you’d never even know.

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Surface Design: Dyeing

Recently, I’ve been experimenting more with the process of dyeing fabric and thought I’d share some of my latest works with textile design.

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While experimenting with dyes I’ve been practicing how to make dyes as well as different dyeing techniques. I started out with basic techniques, similar to those of tye dyeing. I utilized objects like marbles, bottle caps, and rubber bands to experiment with the different patterns I could produce. After mastering that, I went on to understand more of the science of dyeing and started practicing more complicated techniques like shibori, utilizing a tube and some think thread, and then hand stitched shibori in the form of lines, circles, and shapes. Shibori is an interesting dyeing technique from Japan that creates intense patterns in the fabric. In order to produce a successful shibori piece, you must sew patterns in the fabric you’re using, and then pull the thread extremely tight through the fabric before dyeing.

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Earl Grey Shortbread

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Over the last year, I’ve come to really love and appreciate good butter. It started with some encouragement from my friend Charlotte in DC, and intensified in London where I had access to a large variety of European salted butters. In roughly the same time period, I started making earl grey shortbread: a cookie that shows off everything great about butter. This is such a fantastic and adaptable recipe that I’ve made it multiple times (which is something I usually never do with such a long list of things to be making) with different flavor combinations. I usually prefer these with lavender icing, but I went with rosemary-cardamom this time––I had gotten a lot of rosemary in my CSA (more on that soon!) and it smelled too fresh and beautiful not to use.

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The flavor of these––the combination of earl grey, rosemary, and cardamom––is autumnal and floral without being dark: an almost-wintery white chai. And the texture is assuredly that of shortbread, but even a bit cracker-y… that is, until the icing soaks into them later. Make these this fall––and all winter long.

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Posted in Food, Recipe, Written by Matthew | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Neighborhood Finds

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Some people forget that a great way to find vintage treasures is not only from visiting a consignment store, but also from going to local garage and estate sales. I recently visited an estate sale on Norwood in the the Elmwood Village and found some truly unique finds. I bought two items from the estate sale- one being a vintage 1960s maxi dress with a turtle neck and a great pattern (bottom photo), and the other being a mustard yellow cardigan labeled as “Grandpa’s favorite sweater” (middle photo). The dress fits me perfectly and is one of the most unique dresses I have personally ever seen. The sweater was also a great find even though it’s a men’s cardigan. It’s extremely comfortable and the perfect color for Fall.

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Earlier in the summer I took a visit to my hometown and visited some really cool vintage boutiques in NYC as well as Brooklyn. Although we stopped in many different stores and markets, the only purchase I made was from the Williamsburg location of the Artists & Fleas Market. I bought a purple patterned jump suit with a simple belt on the stomach (top photo). The jumper fits great, has an interesting textile print, and was only $40. I can always find unique pieces at Artists & Fleas for a reasonable price in the Williamsburg area, while supporting local craft and clothing vendors simultaneously.

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Sour Cherry Tart

It’s no secret that I have a love affair with sour cherries. As August rolls around every year, I make a point to get to one of Buffalo’s many farmers markets and stock up on them. A week ago, I bought as many as I could get my hands on and turned them into jam, martinis, and pie. This post is about perhaps the most satisfying of the three: the pie!

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But as gorgeous as these local sour cherries may be, the crust is the most important part of any pie.

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I know that everyone and their mother has their own recipe for pie crust. My mother and I routinely bicker about which crust recipe to use––she insists on using an old vegetable shortening recipe from her Polish mother which I have taken to calling the “depression era crust”––and I’ve really taken to the more recent Foolproof Pie Crust from Cook’s Illustrated. I made it for the first time during the Thanksgiving season a few years ago and it hasn’t failed me since. Its secret ingredient, vodka, allows the crust to roll out so smoothly and without cracking while still baking into flaky buttery perfection.

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Posted in Buffalo, Food, Recipe, Written by Matthew | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments