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No. 5 / COLOR - Discovering your craft with Cal Patch

No. 5 / COLOR - Discovering your craft with Cal Patch


Cal Patch is a celebration of color, of crochet, of sewing and the confidence it takes to explore such crafts. If you’re a Making magazine reader you may be familiar with her work, from posies and hats, to wraps and her newest amazing project in COLOR, the Boxet Bag. Cal’s excitement around making is infectious and her encouraging story is one we hope you’ll enjoy. You can find Cal at cal patch.com and on Instagram @hodgepodgefarm.

/ listen /


You can also and listen and subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher.

/ notes & resources /

Cal Patch / Guest site 

/ maker on the street /

Many of you listeners might be familiar with a segment I used to have on the Woolful podcast called Man on the Street, well we’re reintroducing this fun segment to the Making podcast and for this week’s “Maker on the Street” I asked the question, "As Spring approaches, what colors are you most excited to welcome back into your landscape?” 

/ updates /

And a few updates from our Making magazine headquarters…all subscriptions and wholesale orders have shipped and we’re excited to celebrate the official launch of No. 5 / COLOR on April 20th. As a thank you to our wonderful subscribers, we have a few gifts and giveaways planned. We feel so lucky to get to work with every wonderful sponsor at Making, and we owe a big thank you to every one of them who donated all these goodies. All our 2018 Making subscribers will be entered into a random drawing for three packages. If you'd like to be entered, there is still time to subscribe—winners will be chosen next Friday, the 20th! 

/ giveaway /

This weeks giveaway is sponsored by Quince and Co and they’re giving away all the yarn needed to make Cal’s Boxet Bag project from COLOR. To enter this giveaway, leave a comment on this blog post. 

/ sponsors /

This episode is brought to you by our lovely sponsors.

A Verb For Keeping Warm - Oakland, CA averbforkeepingwarm.com

My Sister Knits in Fort Collins, Colorado. mysisterknits.com @mysisterknits



/ transcript /

No. 5 / COLOR - Discovering your craft with Cal Patch

Ashley: [00:00:03] Welcome to making a podcast for makers. I'm excited to share with you some incredible people I've had the opportunity to talk to in this community we love so much. From knitters and quilters the builders and painters, here's where you get to listen to a little part of their making journey. I want to thank our sponsors for this week's episode:.

Sponsor: A Verb For Keeping Warm: [00:00:24] Spinning, dying, felting, knitting, weaving, and sewing are verbs to describe how communities have created cloth garments and other fiber based goods. Such acts embody connection and creativity and such objects provide shelter and keep us warm. A Verb for Keeping Warm honors these traditions by offering a wide range of raw materials to create textiles such as fiber, yarn, and fabric along with classes to cultivate the skill and practice of creating your own clothing and home goods. Located in Oakland our brick and mortar houses a store, an indoor and outdoor classroom, an indoor and outdoor natural dyeing studio, where we produce our own line of naturally dyed yarn and fabric, and a natural dyeing garden. And if you're in the Bay Area make sure to check out and register for our upcoming classes including For Design and Sew Your Own classes taught by today's guest Cal Patch, during the first two weekends in May. You can find our naturally dyed yarn along with notions, dye kits, tools, books, fabric and select other yarn lines on our website at averbforkeepingwarm.com and follow on Instagram @AVFKW.

Ashley: [00:01:36] Cal Patch is a celebration of color, of crochet, of sewing and the confidence and takes to explore such crafts. If you're a Making Magazine reader you may be familiar with her work. From posies and hats to wraps and her newest amazing project in COLOR the Box It Bag. Cal's excitement around making is infectious and her encouraging story is one we hope you'll enjoy. You can find Cal at calpatch.com and on Instagram @hodgepodgefarm. And with that here's Cal

Cal Patch: [00:02:05] My creative journey began pretty much when I was born. I grew up in Ohio which is not the most exciting place on earth. So I I feel like that was a good thing actually because I learned very early to create my own fun my own activities. And I've just always been sort of a maker. My young childhood was in the 70s which I am forever thankful for because I feel like it was just such a creative and fun and crafty decade. And so that might be part of why Crochet is near and dear to my heart and my grandmother definitely did all the crafts she crocheted and knit and I think she even did the things like tatting and other lace-making that are usually what people reference when they say like well that's one thing I've never done but she tried all of those things and she was always working on a project of some kind. She would come over at holidays or any old day for a visit. And she always had some bags of knitting and crochet going and you know while she was visiting with us she would just never stop. So I didn't really think much about it at the time but it's definitely been a major influence on me because that's now exactly what I do. Like many of us.

[00:03:45] And she did teach me how to crochet. But as with many kids I didn't really like stick with it or practice so I think she showed me a few separate times and I would do it for a few days and then move on to something else and come back to it. And my mother was also very crafty. Anything she puts her mind to she can do you know including like fixing a toilet or knocking down a wall. So she definitely gave me the idea that I can kind of do whatever I want. And back when I was young she did a lot of sewing and knitting and creative things and you know we needed Halloween costumes or a dress for a ballet class or something she would totally make it. When I was in high school I took a lot of art classes and I felt like art was where I was called but I had never really seen any kind of role model as to what a working artist did or or what kind of job you could get as an artist. So I kind of came up with the idea that if I went into fashion design I would sort of be an artist but that I might also actually find a job. I loved clothing and I loved to kind of dress creatively and express myself through what I wore. And it just seemed like an artistic endeavor that would lead to the likelihood of having a job. Not that I knew any clothing designers either but I had this logical idea that like well everybody wears clothes so there must be jobs out there in the production of clothing.

Cal Patch: [00:05:42] So that's what I majored in in college. And then I graduated and moved immediately to New York City where I became a fashion designer. And it was really fun and I loved the actual work. But over the next few years I kind of started to understand better how the fashion industry works and realized I didn't really agree with a lot of the ways that it works. And so I could see that it wasn't really a path I wanted to stay on. I wanted to still be designing clothes and making things but I also could see that the higher up I went in the world of clothing design in in the industry. You kind of start to become more like a manager and less of a hands on creative person. So I didn't really like that idea either. So after about 10 years I decided to go out on my own and fulfill a longtime fantasy of owning a shop. So I opened a little boutique in New York City that was very odd and quirky and I sold clothing and other like accessories that I made and other funky creative designers or artists who lived in the neighborhood or around the city they would come in and show me things they made and I would have their things in the store too. So it was a really fun time because I met a lot of great people. And I was surrounded by these objects and wearable creations which didn't always come in sizes, they tended to be very one of a kind and odd.

Cal Patch: [00:07:49] So I did that for about four years and it was there in the shop that I started teaching because not that many people actually walked by. So I was trying to figure out ways to just kind of get people into the shop and make it so that there was community and activities happening so that when someone else walked by and saw something interesting going on they might want to come in. So I started teaching crochet and sewing there and that seemed to be really popular. And then I started to see that in reality having a shop didn't make a lot of sense because for one thing I'm a terrible salesperson. I tended to like suggest to people other stores where they might find what they were looking for because they weren't always looking for very odd art pieces to wear as clothing. So the teaching though seemed to make sense because people signed up in advance. They came at a certain time and then they left. And it just felt like a better fit for me. I love teaching and I never knew that. But that's the time when I discovered it. So after a few years I closed the shop and a friend and I opened a craft school together. As far as I know it may have kind of been the first indie craft School of the time and that was about 2002 I believe it was kind of a little bit before the knitting movement really started to take off. And a lot of yarn shops and fabric shops were closing down and there was kind of a lull in the craft movement but it was like just starting to pick up again.

Cal Patch: [00:09:50] And I think those were the days when the internet was also just sort of starting and people were figuring out what to do with it. So it was kind of an exciting time and we had sewing and knitting and crochet and embroidery and all the usual stuff and people really loved coming in and learning how to do all these techniques. And from there I just started realizing that teaching people how to make their own clothing has really become the way that I'm using my skills of how to design and make clothes, which fits very well into the timing of like the movement of slow fashion and handmade wardrobe. And I just love being part of that and it's like it all just sort of was predesigned to come together at this time. I do still design and produce clothing that I sell. But the main thing I do really is teach people I just was teaching this weekend a two day class where people learn how to draft a pattern for a dress that fits their own measurements and then they sew a muslin and we fit it and we correct the pattern and they sew a dress.

Cal Patch: [00:11:14] And it's often for people kind of just a starting point of like realizing they really can take the power into their own hands and make the things they want to make because you know what you want to wear you know you know what you like what looks good on you what feels comfortable and that may not be at all what you can find in a store or when you go shopping because things are always changing there are trends in the fashion industry likes to kind of tell people what they think they should wear and then also whatever you were wearing six months ago or a year ago you're supposed to get rid of so that you get all new clothes and not really how people work I don't think you know once you figure out what works well for you. You just want to keep wearing similar things but the styles are always changing and so that's often impossible. So I feel that giving people the ability to make their own clothes is just a much more practical approach. And that pretty much brings me to where I am today. That's what I'm doing is just spreading the love of sewing and crochet and helping people make what they want to make and not what the stores are dictating that they should have.

Ashley: [00:12:45] Share with me a little bit about where you live now and how the environment or landscape or community influences your creativity.

Cal Patch: [00:12:57] Well I live in New York City for 18 years from college until about eight or nine years ago. And then I really had been feeling like I no longer wanted to live in a big city. New York is probably one of the most expensive cities to live in in the world. And I was basically working from home sewing, crocheting, teaching at shops but it kind of didn't make sense for me to live in such a expensive place and such an intense and overwhelming place so. I had been really feeling the pull to move back to the country.

Cal Patch: [00:13:42] So I moved to the Hudson Valley of New York which is well where I live it's about two hours north of New York City and it's pretty rural where I live it's a little town called Accord. And I have chickens and a vegetable garden and I'm surrounded by woods and we go for long walks every day with the dog. And to me it is just a much more inspiring and nourishing kind of environment to be in. And I did love living in the city for a long time and it was very inspiring in its way. There's so much going on there's always like creative art theater all kinds of stuff to see. But at a certain point maybe because of my Ohio upbringing where I learned to kind of create my own creative pursuits when I have too much stimulation around. It's kind of overwhelming and shuts me down. So here it's much quieter and I'm way more involved with nature. I spend so much more time outside and I just love being involved. I love growing my vegetables and you know seeing what the chickens find and having them poke around in the woods and just the wildlife the animals and everything. I love it. It's so inspiring and for me it's definitely a better quality of life. But even though I'm working in a rural area mostly in my house although I actually just rented a studio outside the house because I'm experimenting with the idea that I'll be a little more disciplined and productive there. So I mostly work alone but I know that I have this creative community of people that are possibly working alone or they may have other people but we are all kind of in touch and in tune with each other all the time which I think is really cool you know thanks to things like Instagram it's great that our communities can kind of span the globe really.

Cal Patch: [00:16:09] And I love that there are all the like online challenges and knit-alongs and things like that. So I think it's great that we we have people that we admire and that we might sort of think of as like a celebrity or famous but we almost feel like they're as much of a friend as just a regular person who is working at home and, it kind of evens the playing field in a way that I think is actually really cool. But I'm really lucky and thankful that there is a network of great fiber people and fiber artists who I actually do know in real life that I work with and travel around to teach at their shops like I love teaching at A Verb for Keeping Warm. Christine has become a great friend to me. And we just have so much to talk about because of our overlapping interests in clothing making and sewing and pattern drafting and I'm thinking of the other places I teach like Fancy Tiger, Jamie and Amber are so great and so it's so cool that we get to see each other online and see what everybody's making and then we also know each other in real life.

Sponsor: My Sister Knits: [00:17:36] My Sister Knits is a locally owned and loved yarn shop located in Fort Collins, Colorado. Minutes away from historic old town and located in a carriage house. What started out as a small venture for founder Julie Luckasen and grew into a passionate community of creative minds. My sister knits provides a welcoming atmosphere for knitters of all types and skill levels a place for people to gather and cultivate their passion for knitting, Share and support one another. Join them each Tuesday night from 5 to 8 p.m. for their open knitting night and make sure to visit mysisterknits.com com to view their list of upcoming classes. And if you find yourself in or around Fort Collins make sure to visit the shop in person to find amazing yarns and more. Follow on Instagram @mysisterknits.

Cal Patch: [00:18:26] So let's talk about crochet: I will never understand why there is this great divide between knitting and crochet. You know I think they're both great. I think we should really all know how to do both. And of course we're all going to have our leanings in one direction or another but there are so many crochet techniques that are helpful in knitting and vice versa and I feel like other countries like Japan and Europe they have a much more even appreciation of the two. But for some reason and I do have a few theories. I think acrylic technicolor granny square projects though near and dear to my heart. I think they have kind of biased a lot of people against crochet because they think it can only be that way. They think it's a little bit garish and the story often goes like I learned to crochet and then I discovered knitting and then like I never looked back. So I'm trying to show people that like you might want to...

Cal Patch: [00:19:39] Kind of like the way when you learn to knit. You learn garter stitch and then you go through a phase where you're like garter stitch is boring and then later you kind of come back to how awesome garter stitch is because it doesn't curl and it has such a good texture. And it's like you have to go through those phases. I kind of feel like people also need to revisit their crochet and maybe the granny square they made as a kid or when they first learned maybe it is what they come back to. Or maybe you know they could go back and try other like lace or softer drapier fabrics and see that crochet actually has a lot more to offer than they may have initially given it credit for. People have often said to me like you couldn't use like nice yarn for a crochet could you? Or they'll see something I made out of nice yarn and they think it's knitting and they try to argue that it's not crochet and I'm like well you know I made it. I designed it, I know it's crochet! But it just throws people off because they often think it can only be done with thick acrylic yarn in bad colors. So it's definitely one of my missions in life to show the world at least today's generation in the US that crochet is every bit as beautiful, it's very flexible, it can go in a lot of directions and it can be very loose and open it can be a little bit thicker and more sturdy but it's just another tool in the box you know it's really you're using the same raw material as you are in knitting and it's just kind of like a different type of stitch or a different technique.

Cal Patch: [00:21:39] I love that Making the Magazine has given me the opportunity to design a lot of really beautiful but very simple projects because I feel like it's a good situation to expose a lot of knitters and people who just may have had certain connotations about crochet to the fact that it's actually very valid and beautiful and practical and it has a few advantages over knitting too like you're very able to be free form with it and sort of design it or wing it or however you want to think of it because of the fact that only one stitch is ever live at any time. Whereas in knitting usually you have your whole row attached to the needle which always makes me nervous that I feel like I'm going to drop a stitch or something. But for me crochet feels very safe because there's just that one loop usually that if it gets pulled out it's pretty easy to bring it back but you know if my double pointed needle falls out of my sock knitting I go into a complete panic.

Ashley: [00:22:56] Many of you listeners might be familiar with a segment I used to have on the Woolful Podcast called "man on the street." Well we're reintroducing this fun segment to the Making Podcast and for this week's Maker On The Street I ask the question "As spring approaches what colors are you most excited to welcome back into your landscape?" Here's what some of our Maker on the Street team members had to say:

Katie Strano: [00:23:17] Hi my name is Katie Strano and I am a weaver in Connecticut. This spring I'm the most excited about welcoming back green. I want to see Green leaves popping up out of the ground. I like to work a lot with natural fibers specifically plant based fibers so cotton and linen are my very favorites. And this spring my husband and I are going to be planting a tiny little crop of flax for the first time in our backyard and if it makes it while it's in bloom there are two or three weeks to where every plant will get a bright blue periwinkle flower. And each day falls and creates a new flower the next day, and I cannot wait to see that sea of blue out the window in the backyard.

Tabitha Hedrick: [00:24:06] Hey there. I'm Tabitha Hedrick and when spring starts making its presence known all those flowers and rainy blue skies and green grasses, I feel a little bit like a kid in a candy shop. Bright orchid here, soft purple there, starburst yellow, or decadent red berries. I guess you could say that I'm looking forward to all the candy like colors of spring.

Caitlin and Steph: [00:24:27] Hello this is Caitlin and this is Steph, we are Fleece to Fabric based in Ontario Canada. I really enjoy the color lavender, and the first crocus of spring. When they come out and they've got the beautiful purple and yellow stripes going up the petals, and the very first leaves that come out of trees just the tiniest little leaf being the highest saturation of the lightest little green ever. In the spring I try to go out of my way to bring lighter accessories in or start projects that end up having lighter colors in them just to kind of bring that warmth and that joy back into my life. I'm really partial to the first snowdrops where that green is coming out of a very hopeful ground and you catch a glimpse of them in the snow. While you've almost given up on the fact that spring is ever going to happen. So I'm always looking forward to greens and I like to work them back into all of my spring crafting.

Jennifer Rozens: [00:25:26] I have been doing a lot of shopping for yarn lately and I bought some un-dyed yarn that's silk and yax and it's a beautiful golden brown and then almost everything else I've purchased has been either Grey which is one of my absolute favorite non-colors or pink. Pale, pale pink. In my clothing I'm making a dress by Marcy Tilton out of hot pink and magenta stripes so people will see me coming more than likely.

Lili Kudirka: [00:26:01] Hi, it's Lili and I'm really excited about having green and come back. Just in general, it feels like it's been a really long winter. I've got a couple of herb seedlings going so lots of green and then eventually it will flower into pinks and yellows and whites and purples.

Trista Hill: [00:26:21] This is Trista from Knot Knot Yarnables. I am so excited to see Lavenders a kind of coral. I don't want to say pastels but I do want to say hues that are tonal. I think I'm feeling this way because I'm starting to dye my my own yarn. So not just orange but bits of yellow in it or purple but bits of pink in it. Just having some variety that helps pull me into it.

Cal Patch: [00:26:50] So right now I'm in a very like yellow and purple phase. Like I love flowers like pansies and crocuses and a lot of the early things that start blooming at least around here in probably April are yellow and purple so it's not I don't think why I happen to be in a phase of those colors. But the timing is perfect for that.

Cal Patch: [00:27:21] I mean everybody kind of loves spring but definitely where I live we are ready to see some new life and growing things and have the color come back because February and March are pretty drab around the Hudson Valley in the Northeast in general. It's pretty white, gray, and brown. When I look out my window so can't wait for some colors to happen.

Ashley: [00:27:51] So let's talk about some of your past projects too. So for the Smattering Wrap which is in DOTS. Tell me a little bit about your inspiration for that piece.

Cal Patch: [00:28:00] The smattering wrap definitely was a piece that even though I originally designed it with a palette of very soft lovely blues and neutrals in that gorgeous yarn there was a linen and merino blend which was such a nice unusual combination. I was definitely thinking at the same time how fun it would be to also do it with just a wild assortment of scrap yarns. I just can't bear to throw away yarns so I'm always collecting little bits and especially when they're sort of a really special yarn that you remember the project you made with it. I loved the idea of incorporating them into other projects and small pieces very much like quilting. I mean people make quilts and you know they might recognize each fabric as like a dress they made or something they made for their baby or child. And so the Smattering wrap definitely has that quality but a little bit more modern and clean aesthetic. And I am making one.

[00:29:14] But it's it's been slowly progressing. And it's really fun because I can look at all the bits and recognize and know what other project they were in and so it's it kind of becomes like your memories are built into it and it just becomes a lot more personal and interesting to me. And so the bag that I designed for the COLOR issue has a lot of neutral but with little bits of color mixed in and it has two yarns mixed together at all times so that's a fun way to kind of play with the color and you can keep changing one yarn at a time. And it's almost feels like you're mixing paints with a brush or something. I definitely didn't lay out the color patterning or plan it and even within the pattern it doesn't say like now change color it just says to kind of intuitively you know go with a color or a combination of two colors for a while and then when you feel like it change which I'm hoping people are going to feel comfortable and excited about that idea because that's personally how I love to make things. I don't really want to be told this is the color you will use and you will use it now and now you will change to a different color. So it's just a really loose and playful way of even you might use your scraps or leftovers that you already have or you could pick a palette of colors and just play around with how each color mixes with the other ones in the palette and I think it's going to be really fun to see what people do with it.

Cal Patch: [00:31:13] Color is definitely one of my favorite design elements and I think I have a pretty good sense of color though I'm pretty experimental usually at least in my when I'm choosing thanks for myself though I definitely have noted that as I've gotten a little bit older I like to mix my brights with my neutrals .  I have definitely had days where I looked at what I was wearing and realized that there was a lot of color going on often especially when I do something like go to the Sheep and Wool Festival and I always want to wear like all the recent projects I made and they tend to be all different colors that don't necessarily go together. So there are times where I feel a little bit crazy in terms of color but generally I love mixing colors and neutrals and maybe toning things down just a little bit more than I once did.

Ashley: [00:32:22] What's in your project bag and what are some of the essentials that you bring along with you?

Cal Patch: [00:32:27] The bag goes everywhere with me is a tote bag that I made probably five or six years ago and it's so essential and daily like it's just it's my purse it's my tote bag it's my everything bag that it is very sadly needing to be replaced because it's literally just falling apart but it's like a brown canvas on the outside and then a really bright strawberry print on the inside. And I made a little matchings zipper pouch that lives inside out of the strawberry print. So I always have an emergency crochet project in there at all times that I try to never take out when I'm at home so that I can't leave the house without being sure I have it.

Cal Patch: [00:33:22] And currently that project is actually just a circle of crochet with a bunch of scrap colors that it's just going to be a little mat or something to put under a plant and brighten up a little corner but it's just kind of a mindless project that I feel like is a good you know when you have five minutes where you're stuck in the car or at some random place. It's always there for me but lately I've also been keeping an embroidery project in my bag at all times too so I tend to have way more projects in my bag than I actually could work on. But I think we can all relate to that, the panic that we will actually use all the yarn or or you just might get to a part where you're stuck or you need to make a decision. And so you need like a backup project in case you just come to a stopping point where you need more focus or something when you're on the go.

Ashley: [00:34:27] What are you most excited about in the future whether it's just in your day to day or kind of more on a global community level or in your making and business.

Cal Patch: [00:34:38] I am looking forward to a lot of exciting teaching happening this year. I'm actually going to be traveling quite a bit more than I have in the past couple of years and mostly I'll be teaching people pattern drafting and sewing classes and I'm excited to see. We were having some conversations this past weekend and the class that I taught that people are starting to get inklings of the fact that the clothing industry is not functioning in a way that's healthy or ethically right at all.

Cal Patch: [00:35:23] And so some people are starting to see the way forward of trying to buy more quality clothes or make their own clothes or just stop buying so many inexpensive clothes and throwing them all away. So I love that I'm teaching people how to make the choice to make their own or even if by learning a little bit about how clothes are made. You know I know everyone's not going to start making their own clothes but even just to appreciate the idea that it's better to support a maker who is independently producing clothes in a more ethical more environmentally conscious way. So that you're not supporting the horrendous fashion industry and just it's disposable culture that keeps snowballing and getting worse and worse.

Ashley: [00:36:30] This week's giveaway is sponsored by Quince and Co. And they're giving away all the yarn needed to make Cals Box It Bag project from COLOR. To enter this giveaway Leave a comment on today's episode's blog post at makingzine.com

Ashley: [00:36:45] All subscriptions and wholesale orders have shipped and we're excited to celebrate the official launch of No. 5 COLOR on April 20th. As a thank you to our wonderful subscribers we have a few gifts and giveaways planned. We feel so lucky to get to work with every wonderful sponsor at Making and we owe a big thank you to everyone of them who donated all these goods. All of our 2018 Making subscribers will be entered into a random drawing for three special giveaway packages. If you'd like to be entered there's still time to subscribe. Winners will be chosen next Friday April 20th.

Ashley: [00:37:21] The biggest of things to everyone involved in this week's episode. A Verb for Keeping Warm, My Sister Knits, Quince & Co., Cal Patch, and our producer Alice Anderson.

Ashley: [00:37:31] I hope you'll join me each week as we talk and learn from more fascinating makers. For podcast notes and transcription visit makingzine.com. If you're interested in being a part of this podcast as an episode or give away sponsor shoot us an email at ashley@makingzine.com. Have a wonderful week.