Friday, January 31, 2014

Year of the Horse - The Stitched Journal


Recently I rambled on about Process, and that I was embarking on year-long personal project. At that time I was uncertain what to call it, how to give my idea a name. Now, I'm still uncertain, but I suppose the best way to describe my project is to say that it is a Journal. For many years I was a prolific journal writer, after becoming a parent my journal writing dropped off tremendously, but I still get a little weak in the knees when I come across a lovely blank book. 

I wanted to use my stitching as a type of journal keeping, a sketchbook in textiles. To make this happen though, I needed to give myself some guidelines. If I just kept to some sort of nebulous scheme, it might turn into another unfinished, yet pretty exciting idea.

I kept the rules simple, always a good plan for success. One journal "page" per month, one textile piece to explore new ideas, thoughts, techniques and feelings. Did I say feelings? Yes, I sure did. When I was working on my January piece, I realized I wasn't just playing around with stichery and fabric; I was also processing emotions. It was fun, it was hard, I learned a lot.  

What I also found out was this, I loved the whole process! Though the piece itself is deceptively simple, the elements were carefully constructed and more time than you would imagine went into it. The hand dyed fabric alone was a long and interesting experimentation that taught me quite a lot.

By the end of the year I should have 12 "pages" or pieces rather. I am going to attempt to keep them all similar in size so that they may be compiled at the end of the year into a type of book, "My Year in Textile Manipulation," perhaps?

I am really quite smitten with The Stitched Journal Project and I look forward to February's piece!

Anyone care to join in?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Is it the end of the affair?

I was rummaging through the studio this week, as I do, and I found my yarn stash. I looked at it - the happy colors, the endless possibility and I thought about my Crochet Affair. That affair started in 2006 or so and it has waxed and waned since that time.

Just very recently I thought that the affair may be over. A little sad maybe, but times change and passions fade. So, with a heavy heart I put away my yarn and went for a quick goggle at my fave blogs, looking for happy images to cheer me up.

And wouldn't you just know it, I stumbled upon (completely by accident mind you) some lovely and juicy crochet treats! It seems wherever I turned crochet was staring me prettily in the face. I felt a pinch of that old flame, I did!

I remembered the excited triumph when I completed my first Granny Square! I thought for a moment, then I thought for a few more moments, searching my heart and mind. I don't think the love is gone. I don't think the affair is over. It is possibly rekindled!

So what shall I make? And could you please tell me where I've put my hooks?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Rags of Wu

The traditional Japanese clothing known as kimono, also has another name, gofuku (literally translated as, "clothes of Wu." It was somewhere during the Edo period (1603–1867 AD), that the style of kimono we have come to commonly know, came into full fashion. Though their beginnings can be traced back as early as the 8th century, as Chinese fashions came into style among the Japanese.

Today I had a grand plan, which was part of a Master Plan, that in truth seems a bit lofty at the moment. Today was the day I was going to unpack the rest of my sewing stuff, fabric and boxes of whosits and whatnots, etc.  I set right in with a great deal of enthusiasm and fortitude, I did.  You know how it is though, don't you? As you unpack you find treasures and treasures are far more interesting than folding and sorting and figuring out where the heck it's all suppose to go. 

I did indeed find treasure.

I found my rags of Wu.

Several years ago my mother sent me a bag full of scraps from vintage kimono. I believe she found them at an estate sale. These are all from what seem to have been well worn garments, dating from maybe the 40s - 60s. Some silk, rayon, linen... Many have stains and holes. I find each piece fascinating. Each one has the remnants of hand stitching, every one of the kimonos they came from had been hand pieced. I love looking at the fine stitching, imagining other makers from the past in other lands.

I begin wondering about the lives of those who made and wore these garments. I may make up little stories about them in my head.

Once I start imagining, I get ideas, and that's when the trouble starts. 
I did manage to get most of the boxes unpacked before I ran off again to look at my rags and read up on Japanese clothing history.

Well, back to the Master Plan... oh maybe I'll start again on Monday.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On measuring twice, sewing pirate pants, and camp cooking

After my pleasant morning spent sewing for a baby, it occurred to me that I haven't sewn much lately for my own baby. Though hardly a baby anymore and growing like a weed of course, Pony Girl's closet is dwindling in the handmade department. So yesterday I dipped my toes back in the water and set about making her a pair of easy-peasy pants.  As she was away at school, I took a pair of pants from her dresser and set about making a pattern. I pulled out some fabric, that for the life of me I can't remember where it came from, nothing fancy, just a bit of stripey loosely woven cotton. Whipped them up in a jiffy I did. Wisely, I waited until my girl returned home from school to finish the waistband and hems. A quick try on and it was clear, a size too small. Well, someone will be getting a pair of piratey pants for a present.

The old adage, "Measure twice, cut once." is ringing in my ears. Of course even measuring once would have been helpful in this case. So, come this weekend I will need to wrangle that girl of mine and play a game of Statues. I do hope I can get a full set of measurements before she tires of the game.

As collector of patterns, I thought I should go through my stash of kid's sewing patterns and it was with a small bit of shock that I realized my girl is about to grow beyond the sizes I have collected. Looks like I better get cracking. I've added this pile to the "MAKE" list. I wonder how far I'll get before Pony Girl is taller than me.

On other creative fronts, we have been doing a bit of demolition in the kitchen. The old stove and oven had to go. Though they were full of retro charm, they did not function quite so well. This meant taking a sledge hammer to a hunk of cabinetry as well. Now, there is a gaping hole where it all once was. Now we wait for the professional to come and run a gas line, do a bit of electrical work and so on.  Being without a stove has been a challenge, there is only so much one can make with an electric tea kettle. So, by day three of no cook-top, I had had enough and broke out the trusty camp stove.

You know, I have always been a rather good camp cook. The funny thing is, this old camp stove cooks a treat better than the stove we tore out! So there you have it, and it's only Wednesday!

Monday, January 20, 2014


“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”  - Martin Luther King Jr.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Happy and Wise

I have spent my morning wisely and quite happily stitching away. Sewing up some simple baby essentials for a friends baby shower. Bright cheerful fabrics and basic techniques. In a couple of hours I managed a few burp cloths...

A sweet bib...

and of course a Wee Bunny.

Wee Bunny Pattern from Simple Sewing with Lola Nova

It really is lovely to spend time at this sort of sewing. It feels a bit like mediation,  the steady hum of the machine, and the simple movements that I know so well. It is a joy to make for a precious little human that will soon be coming into the world. So, a happy and wise morning indeed!

Happy weekending all!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Oh now I've done it! I am actually writing a post on The Creative Process, excuse me a moment while I snarkily laugh at myself from a safe distance. There are plenty of books, essays, online classes and TED Talks all concerning The Creative Process; surely, they articulate the subject better than I could ever hope to. Still, here we are!

There are also a good many interesting quotes on process and I may share a few with you, but what has to be my all time favorite quote on the subject was one I happened to overhear.

Once upon a time, I was strolling through the art museum. I noticed 2 scruffily natty young men on a bench with their sketchbooks out having what seemed to be an impassioned conversation. As I walked closer to the bench to view a painting, an amazing looking woman in a caftan, turban, blood red lipstick and a silver cobra headed walking cane ( She looked about in her 70s) stepped next to the young men and stared at the painting in front of her. When she began to move on, she looked at the men and said, "Oh for Pete's sake, just shut up! You creatives are forever yammering on about the Creative Process! Your self important gobbelty gook is interrupting my enjoyment of this lovely painting, and besides, no one gives a flying fart!"  

Still, there is something to it, this process business, and at the moment I seem to be in the thick of it. The thick and slow like molasses of it.  It all starts with a tiny seed of an idea. Sometimes that seed sprouts quickly and makes it's way to a full fledged project right away. Other times, it takes ages for that seed to germinate. That's where I am at right now. I have this personal year-long project in my sights, but I am making my weaving way stumbling through it all. 

I find myself walking into my studio picking up the strangest pieces, working on the small, the details, creating laborious techniques, exploring funny ideas.  It's about textures and color and...I don't even know yet.

I have been "staining" fabric with fabric paint. Sort of like dying, but using paints and small individual pieces so that all are completely unique. Sewing in multiple layers, examining both the "right" and "wrong" sides of things. Then there is the rest of my work time, spent staring at the walls and ruminating.

Indolence, of course, is an absolutely crucial part of the creative process: you do not find poets sitting in rows in cavernous word factories, staring at screens. They are rather to be found lolling on the sofa or strolling through the groves, nursing their melancholic temperaments and losing themselves in extended reveries.
Tom Hodgkinson 

All of this is getting in the way of things I should be making; a quilt for a baby that is on the way, pants for my daughter, tutorials for the blog... Yet, I am compelled and consumed. All the while not having a clue where this is ultimately leading. Ok, I have a tiny clue.

Most of the little business I have been playing with will be thrown out, part of the learning curve, part of the process. I do find myself frustrated and impatient from time to time, but I can't hurry and I can't wait.

I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

What I love about the creative process, and this may sound naive, but it is this idea that one day there is no idea, and no solution, but the next day there is an idea. I find that incredibly exciting and conceptually actually remarkable.
Jonathan Ive 

Mirriam - Webster:


noun \ˈprä-ˌses, ˈprō-, -səs\
: a series of actions that produce something or that lead to a particular result
: a series of changes that happen naturally

Monday, January 13, 2014

Hello Monday - Technical Difficulties

Well, after over an hour of trying to post and being completely thwarted by technical difficulties, I have decided to take the hint and instead leave you with a photo of an old mossy driftwood burl. Just because.

See you soon once I get it sorted.
Happy Monday!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Hello Monday - Happy New Year!

It's the first Monday of the New Year and my first chance to sit down and meditate on the year that was and the fresh and shiny new year that lies ahead. I don't make resolutions, but sometimes I choose a word for the new year. This year I stumbled upon a quote that struck me as a possible totem for 2014.

 "Follow your inner moonlight; don't hide the madness." - attributed to Allen Ginsgerg

What that says to me is - Be Yourself. Simple right? I'm still ruminating on what that truly means to me and how it informs my daily life, but it's a pretty good rule to live by.

I look forward to this year, to settle even more into our new home, to make memories with my family, and to laugh a lot. I hope to play more, explore more, have adventures and cozy moments. I am excited about designing and making more, discovering some new techniques and passions, playing with ideas that have been swimming around in my head for a while.

I am ready to reinvigorate this happy place as well, more sharing of ideas and changing things up a bit. All good things!

How about you? Do you make resolutions, write down intentions, or choose a yearly word? What are you looking forward to?

May it truly be a Happy New Year to you all!

"Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!" - Dr. Seuss

Friday, January 3, 2014

I Promised Her Pink

When we decided to look in earnest for a new house, My husband and I talked about it with our girl. At first she was excited, then the next day she announced that she didn't want to move, because "our house has all the stuff and all of my memories!" There were a lot of conversations, reassurances, and promises that we would never, ever forget our life in The Little Green Cottage. We told a lot of stories about the years we lived there, it was the only home she had known, it was a big deal.

They say moving is one of the big deal stressful events in our lives as adults, it's true. It's a big deal scary thing for kids too. I did promise that she could decorate her new room however she wanted, and that I would help. I promised her pink.

So... moving house, big plans, bright ideas and then... reality. Our girl has fully embraced the new house. It only took a few days of exploring the garden and she was smitten. Still, 5 months on and she's picked out her paint colors and asking me, "So when are we going to paint my room? Like you PROMISED." I believe that it is vitally important to keep one's promises to children, that's why I don't make a lot of them. Sometimes my promises take a little longer to come to fruition, but I do make good.

The only "before" picture I could find. Drab olive green walls.

So, while she was away visiting grandparents recently, I got to work transforming her room. I had been taking notes for the last few months and knew the most important details; such as, there absolutely had to be a crystal chandelier!

I took down the old light fixture and wired a crystal chandelier in it's place. She also needed a reading light by the bed for those night time reading sessions. I installed a wall sconce over the bed.
There needed to be 'flowy" curtains. I added a strand of fairy lights behind the corner gauzy curtains for a little bit of extra magic.

To tame the overwhelming amount of pink going on, I added bits of turquoise throughout the room. The little dresser has belonged to me since I was 16, it has amazingly made it through years of moving and adventures.

The sweet desk came from my favorite neighborhood vintage shop. As it had a glass top, I placed a vintage embroidered runner (pink of course) under the glass along with some vintage Parisian ephemera that I printed from the computer. Our girl loves all things Paris!

And a horse of course, she's still Pony Girl through and through!

I had such a good time working on her room, in fact I kind of wanted to move in myself. Now, this is no magazine makeover. There wasn't any money in the budget for new bedding, a rug for the floor, or a bed frame. This is a real life DIY room makeover. With plenty of opportunity for our girl to make it truly her own and add to it down the line. It was a wonderful chance to show my daughter that I had been listening to her, what she wanted for a room of her own.

Oh, and yes, she loves it! She has been spending much more time in her room since she came home. That is a good sign I think. I promised her pink and now she's got it!

Now, for the rest of the house! Well, give me a year or so.

For those who want to know the nitty gritty:

Benjamin Moore paint in A Touch of Pink and Hydrangea Flowers beautiful colors!
Lighting, Turquoise desk chair, and curtains from IKEA
Horse poster from (I attached a poster to a blank artist canvas with polyurethane with a bit of wrinkling in the process. I painted the edges black)
Vintage Furnishings and Bedding = personal collection

Happy New Year All!