What inspires Rebecca Yaker -- One-Yard Wonders Co-Author

Posted by Jessica

Rebecca_YakerEver wonder what you could sew with just one yard of fabric? Rebecca Yaker (formerly known as the “Sock Monkey Lady”) and co-author Patricia Hoskins can show you 303 awesome ways to turn your fabric stash into something wonderful. Check out this great interview with Rebecca where you’ll learn about what inspires her, knitting for the Super Bowl, shoe making and more!

What was the inspiration for the One-Yard Wonders series?

The inspiration had a little bit to do with the publisher.... I’m a co-author with my good friend Trish Hoskins. She and her husband own a local craft store – Crafty Planet. They have a fabulous storefront as well as an online store with an amazing selection of fabric, and they teach all kinds of crafty classes. Just over 10 years ago, I walked into their newly opened shop, just blocks from my home and announced, “I’m crafty,” and we’ve been friends ever since. Fast forward to 2008 when Trish had a lunch date set up with a group from Storey Publishing who was in town for a knitting event. She asked me if I wanted to come...who could refuse a free lunch? One-Yard WondersStorey is the publisher behind the One-Skein Wonders book series where you can knit 101 projects each with only one-skein of yarn and they were looking to expand the concept into sewing. We had great conversations over lunch and sometime before the bill came, they invited us to put a proposal together for a One-Yard Wonders sewing book. It really ended up being a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

Tell us more about putting together the proposal and developing the book.

All in all, from proposal to publication, this book had a very fast turn around. We put together a proposal for 24 to 36 one-yard sewing projects, but no, the publisher said they wanted 101. That seemed crazy to us for a sewing book – it was totally daunting, and we went for it! The process seemed never ending, neither of us had any experience writing a book, and in the end it came together beautifully. It was a ton of work and I remember repeatedly saying to Trish, “I’m never doing this again! I’m never doing this again!” Then we received mock up PDFs of the cover and page layouts and my heart skipped a beat. I was in love. Suddenly my mantra became, “I WILL do this again! I WILL do this again!” LittleOneYardCoverThe first One-Yard Wonders was published in October 2009 and allegedly was the #1 craft book of 2009. We went on to do a second – Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders where we focused on different fabric types – wool, knits, woven, fleece. Then in June of this year, our third book came out – Little One-Yard Wonders. It’s my fave ... maybe because I have a little one.

How would you describe your design style?

My personal style is jeans and a t-shirt and a sweater … one which I knit. I enjoy incorporating things I make into my wardrobe. I have even gone through phases where I aspire to make everything I wear. I love working with colors and patterns – definitely not understated. Mixing and matching unusual things is really exciting to me.

PartySkirtWe love your Party Dresses on your website. How did you come up with these?

The One-Yard Wonders books are about helping someone approach their stash and figure out what to do with a yard of this or a yard of that. I have a completely different problem which involves me buying fabric by the bolt. I have a really huge stash. Periodically I’ll come up with a series of things. The party dresses were an attempt to destash my “excessive stash”.

What is your favorite fabric to work with?

I really enjoy working with cotton. I also like working with other fabrics, such as silks with interesting prints, but it’s not nearly as quick and easy as working with cotton. Cotton is really nice – easy to sew a seam and to press it nicely. It always works so well, not to mention all the incredible printed cottons out there! SockMonkeyDress

Tell us more about your connection with sock monkeys. You took something so loveable and memorable to a fun, new place!

It’s taken some time, but I’m slowly losing my “Sock Monkey Lady” title. In 2002 I was in grad school in Detroit in a fiber arts masters program. I hand wove some fabric to make my first sock monkey dress with a monkey face on each breast. Not much more happened with the concept until 2005, when I made a second sock monkey dress for an event at the Walker Art Center here in Minneapolis. By that time I had started machine knitting so I was able to simulate the look of classic tweedy brown socks. The dress I made had 30 monkey faces around the skirt … each corresponding to someone at the event. It was a really fun thing to make, although I am not exactly sure why I made it. It ended up getting picked up by some local media, and thanks to the internet went national, and even international, and the “Sock Monkey Lady” title was born. Since then, I have made a whole series of clothing for adults inspired by the classic sock monkey, including a bikini. I think what really inspired me to start playing around with the sock monkey concept was the absurdity of sock monkeys and the many personalities people assigned to them. A few years ago there was a giant sock monkey in a commercial which aired during the Super Bowl. Because of my connection with sock monkeys, I was commissioned to knit all the fabric for it.

What are you into now?

Right now I’m really excited about making shoes. I have tons of experience designing, sewing and knitting my own clothes – but shoes, that would be something incredible to make! I got tipped off to a place in Chicago – the Chicago School of Shoemaking – where I’ve taken a few classes including boot making, sandal making, and pattern drafting. I’ve since also taken classes in Oregon and Northern Minnesota making leather shoes and learning new techniques. I’m still trying to figure out how I want to approach shoemaking – what tools I need, what kind of studio space, and how I want to move forward with this amazing new skill. It’s so fun when people say, “I love those shoes,” and then I say, “I made those shoes.” TheHandMadeShoesn they hesitate, and I see wonder and confusion, so I further clarify, “Really. I made them. This was a hide of leather.” The process is just amazing.

For more information on Rebecca visit her webpage.  


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