We get the biggest kick out of following along with Shannon & Jason Mullett-Bowlsby of the Shibaguyz. Not only are they true Renaissance men, they are constantly on the road, whether across the country for a new teaching adventure, or just across town with their three stunning Shiba Inus.
We first introduced them to you earlier this year with their debut Aurifil collection, FAB Sashiko Essentials. Since then, they’ve been busy working on new projects, new collaborations, and new teaching engagements from their fiber arts roots, to Sashiko & Boro stitching, to EPP, apparel, and quilting. There is truly no limit to what these men are capable of creating!
This weekend, they are teaching, exhibiting, and vending at STITCHES Midwest in Illinois. It is the perfect launch pad for their brand new collection, The Mighty Ten. Featuring 10 richly hued small spools of our 50wt thread, the collection is destined for greatness, in the areas of EPP, quilting, and garment construction. We can’t wait to see what they make next!
If this is your first time hearing of these fine fellows, take notice. You’ll be hearing a lot more about them from here on out! We’re honored that we get to be part of the team to offer an introduction. <3
Shop the collection HERE.
THREAD COLLECTION DETAILS
The Mighty Ten
100% Aurifil 50wt Cotton, 10 Small Spools (220yds each)
2692, 2024, 6711, 2260, 5023, 5022, 2784, 2770, 4030, 2395
ALL ABOUT THE SHIBAGUYZ
Tell us a bit about yourselves and the origin of the Shibaguyz.
The origin story of the Shibaguyz… well, it’s certainly not as interesting as Spiderman or the Hulk, but we love our little family. The name Shibaguyz comes from our three Shiba Inu. We take them everywhere with us. Like, everywhere. The first time we were out and about at a farmer’s market without them, someone yelled “Hey, aren’t you the guys with the Shibas?” To which we responded “Yup! We’re the Shibaguyz.” And it stuck. We are totally fine with being associated with these three faces.
When folks ask how we ended up with three, Jason always quickly responds “Because I wouldn’t let him have four.” It’s true…
How did you get started in the world of design?
We both come from a long line of sewists and quilters. Shannon’s grandmother and great aunts were always in the middle of a quilt and made clothes for themselves and the family. Jason’s mother made all the family’s clothes and was a costume designer for the theatre. We’ve been practicing hand crafts since we both were old enough to hold fabric and needles. We got into crochet and knit designs because Shannon was making hats and socks once when Jason’s parents were out for a visit. Jason’s mom, Kay, looked at what Shannon was making and said “Boy, I’d buy that.” Pivotal moment. We have worked on eleven books of crochet and knit designs and in the past couple of years have come back to our quilting, hand sewing, and cut-and-sew garment roots.
What drives you to create and what within that brings you the most joy?
Life in general is our creative inspiration. From tree bark we see in the woods on walks with the Shibakidz to the architecture and colors of our city and fashion styles of the different people we see every day… we see everything as a springboard for creative inspiration and that is what drives us to create new things. Sometimes those things we create don’t amount to much more than just us making a thing that brings us joy. But sometimes those things turn into something later on that become a bigger concept that develops into a whole new enterprise for us. Dang… this is a tough question to answer in a short interview!
You both work within a wide range of mediums… how does one inform the next and do you have a favorite?
The thing about us is that we don’t limit ourselves to working within the boundaries of one medium. Yes, one or both of us can become obsessed with one medium more so than the others, but we are always open to using techniques and skills from another creative discipline to expand on our work. It wasn’t always like that. We thought we needed to stick to one or two and really home in on that audience in order to make our brand work. But that’s just not how it works for us though… not in any way that makes us happy to get up every day. The minute we decided to just not try to fit into any one creative world, we started loving what we did even more fully and started creating things that even startled us.
And, no, we don’t have a favorite. Right now, we have a lot to say in the world of sewing. Specifically, we have been researching sashiko and boro pieces in the collection of the Seattle Art Museum. So that’s our current obsession and what we have the most to say about right now. For now.
You’re out there teaching your techniques throughout the year… what do you find most fulfilling about passing along your craft?
We love seeing folks pick up “stuff” in front of them on a table and make things. Their faces light up, they get excited, and they end up creating something unique and beautiful. With regards to passing along our craft, that’s the part of our craft that we like the most. That spark of creativity where everything and anything is possible and a new joy is created. That’s pretty exciting for us.
You’ve long been known for your work in the world of fiber arts. What drew you to add sewing and quilting to your repertoire?
There’s actually nothing new about sewing and quilting in our repertoire. We started our work in crochet and knitting both because it is where our passions drew us and because we saw an opening in that arena needing filled. We’ve both been sewing and quilting since we were toddlers. Jason’s mother was a costumer and garment maker who taught him to make his own clothes when he was just a kid. Shannon’s grandmother and great aunts had him doing the rocker stitch on a quilt around the same time he learned to crochet, age 4(ish). This type of sewing is integral to our daily lives. Scattered throughout our home we have quilts and quilt blocks that were all made by hand. Jason’s grandmother and Great Aunt’s handiwork hang next to Shannon’s Grandmother’s and Great-Grandmother’s items. It’s a craft that has been handed down from our teachers and we keep it alive.
The addition of sewing and quilting into our teaching curriculum is just the next step to our final goal: to make all the things! <insert evil genius laugh here>
As long-standing instructors at STITCHES events, you’ve taught countless classes in the area of fiber arts. How have your sewing and quilting classes been received?
We’ve seen surveys, and have done some of our own, showing that most people that do one craft tend to do at least four crafts. 90% of knitters and crocheters are also likely to be skilled in sewing, quilting, spinning, dying, etc. For years now we have advocated adding other crafts into our core class curriculum and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Our students LOVE seeing the addition of these classes and have been enthusiastic about trying out new crafts – some for the very first time. We firmly believe these crafts all work hand in hand, pun intended!
It seems that your favored techniques are drawn largely from the practice of slow stitching. From Sashiko & Boro to EPP, all are known as techniques that connect the artist to the craft… slow things down and teach the artist to appreciate the process and the joy of creating. Do you find a connection between these techniques and the knit and crochet for which you’re so well-known?
Definitely! Coming from the world where people spend months making a single garment, we know all about slowing down and enjoying the time it takes to create a project. Our evenings tend to be all about sitting on the couch, watching bad sci-fi tv, and stitching. Boro, Sashiko, or hand sewing a quilt using English Paper Piecing forces you to look at what you are doing and take time to notice all the details. From the colors you choose and the way the blocks are sewn together, to the texture of the fabric before and after quilting are tiny pieces of the overall finished object but become massively apparent when you take the time to really look and feel the project as it comes to life. It really is magic.
That being said… we are TOTALLY behind pulling out the BERNINA and making a new shirt in an afternoon to be worn at an event. That too is magical. After spending years in an arena where people literally work months making a sweater or shawl, seeing someone sew a polished couture jacket in a weekend is almost like witchcraft! “Oh look, a pile of fabric. Let’s turn on the magic stitching machine… *POOF*… here’s a pair of pants”.
There is a place for both slow and fast stitching in our studio. The common factor is we remain mindful of the creation process and the work we do with our hands.
Tell us about your new collection and why you’re so excited to share it with fans?
First… it’s a collection of Aurifil thread in 50 wt. You can’t get more perfect than that! Aurifil 50wt is the ideal thread to work in just about any type of sewing. Second, the colors! The Mighty Ten Hand Sewing Essentials collection has ten small spools in colors we use most often in the studio for all of our sewing projects. Basically, it’s a collection that, if you didn’t have anything else, you could still work on a wide variety of projects.
We’re teachers and problems solvers by nature and we looked at the Mighty Ten Hand Sewing Essentials as a solution to a common problem. We’ve noticed how easy it is to get stumped on what thread weight to use for what project. We all get a little hung up on a project and are afraid to move forward when we aren’t sure what thread weight to use or when we don’t have the right colors. We wanted to create a collection with Aurifil 50 wt because it works perfectly for everything from English Paper Piecing to quilting and garment making. We also carry it in our travel sewing kits because it’s versatile enough to be used for everything from mending to sewing on buttons and getting a little EPP time on the plane. It’s the weight we reach for most often for our machine and hand sewing projects. You just can’t go wrong with a great mid-weight thread like this.
As always, narrowing down the ten colors was the hardest part. Ideally, we would all have the whole collection of 272 Aurifil colors in every weight (we can dream, right?). But… if that’s not the case, the Mighty Ten Hand Sewing Essentials collection is a good place to start. The same as with our last collection of 12 wt thread, we chose the colors by looking at the thread we had closest at hand in our kits, worktables, and next to our BERNINA. Specific projects aside, these colors cover everything from light and dark neutrals to the bold and vibrant colors that we love Aurifil for.
Versatile, vibrant, and adaptable are the words that come to mind when we open that cute little Mighty Ten Hand Sewing Essentials collection box. C’mon, it’s a cute box. Right? Speaking of the box: BONUS! We included a QR code on the cover. Scan the code and be whisked away to a page that includes the digital download for two English Paper Piecing templates based on one of Shannon’s grandmother’s quilts and one of Jason’s grandmother’s quilt blocks.
Finally… let’s have a little fun!
Shannon – “Karaoke? Hmmm. Don’t know that word. Does that come with pot stickers or eggrolls?”
Jason – Run Around Sue or anything Broadway related.
Shannon – The Dinosaur Heresies: New Theories Unlocking the Mystery of the Dinosaurs and Their Extinction by Bob Bakker (you asked!)
Jason – Art of the Pie by Kate McDermott or The Food Lab byKenji López-Alt
Shannon – Purple
Jason – Chartreuse
Shannon – Club Soda & Limeaide
Jason – Moscow Mule
Shannon & Jason – Japan for a month of shopping and cultural observation… then a week in a villa in Tuscany to unwind.
Notion: Why not ask us which of the Shibakidz we love more… that’d be easier.
Quilting Technique: Right now, as of July 29that 1:25pm, Boro and Sashiko. Ask again tomorrow you’ll get a different answer. We love and practice ALL the techniques.
HUGE thanks to the Shibaguyz for their sharing a bit of their world with us!! <3
Shannon and Jason Mullett-Bowlsby are the dynamic DIY duo known as the Shibaguyz, and the creative geniuses behind Shibaguyz Designz Studio. Their award-winning crochet & knit designs have been featured in and on the covers of 15 magazines and appeared in articles in industry magazines in the US and abroad. Their craft, portrait, and fashion photography has appeared in six books and numerous magazines around the globe and the duo have released over 300 patterns since their first cover design in 2010. They have published 11 books of crochet and knitwear patterns with their newest book, Complete Crochet Course – the Ultimate Reference Guide just released in March of 2018 from Sterling/Lark Publishing.
*Images courtesy of The Shibaguyz