Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Stitched Journal Project - February

The Stitched Journal Project is: Makers from around the world creating one "page" or piece of work per month and sharing. It is a project to get the ideas flowing, to process the days in a creative way, to try new techniques and to push past fears that keep us from making something.  It isn't about perfection, or getting it "just right," it is about process and perspective.

February - Hand stitching on hand dyed and recycled cloth

My February piece for The Stitched Journal Project is not anything like I had thought it would be. In fact, I had a very different idea at the beginning of the month. Then the month got going and things changed. We had wild weather, home repair issues, you know, life. Things got hectic and time flew by. There were celebrations and mile stones in our family, and suddenly it was near the end of the month.

When I started working on my piece, I wasn't sure what I was doing and it became an improvisational exercise. Bit by bit, layer by layer, I worked in almost slow motion. I felt the need to hand stitch. I sat in the antique rocking chair that The Engineer gave me when I was pregnant with Pony Girl and I started that rocking stitch. Back and forth, up and down, rocking the needle and weaving it through the cloth. The repetitive movements and the pure easy focus became a meditation. I felt the calming effect and my mind emptying of all the distractions and racing thoughts that come with everyday life. The work was just what I needed, helping me slow down and take in the moment.

It also got me out of my comfort zone. When I work on functional sewing projects I clip every thread, finish every seam; so to work with raw edges, the irregular stitches and the wonky bits was an exercise in letting go.

At first I wasn't sure how I felt about the piece, but it has grown on me. I do think I would like to give it some kind of edging, maybe a binding or embroidered border. Or perhaps it will stay just the way it is.

Edited to add: I learned some stitchy business from this piece that I thought would be good to share. 1. I am in desperate need of new embroidery and hand stitching needles. Changing your needles out regularly really does make a difference! 2. I used a thick wool felt as a backing fabric - I will not choose this again. It made for heavy work on my hands and did not give me the stitch ease I would like.

I am so very excited that this project has become something that has gone beyond the personal; that makers from different parts of the world have decided to join me in this exploration!

Below you will find links to the wonderful makers and their Stitched Journal Project pieces for February. Please keep your eyes on this spot in the next couple of days as more add their links. Be sure to visit them and leave comments!

If you think you would like to join in as well, it's not too late!  We will be sharing our pieces the last Friday of every month at least until the end of the year. We'd love to have you.

All of you wonderful Stitched Journal Project participants please link up below! Remember to add your photos to The Stitched Journal Flickr Group! and be sure to share with Facebook, Twitter, etc!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hello Monday - Pretending Spring

Outside it is a gloomy Monday, all bluster and rain, gray skies and soggy ground. Inside however, I am pretending it is Spring. I spotted 2 little daffodils in the corner of the yard and one slightly battered Hellebore. I clapped my hands and said "Hello first flowers! You are a sight for sore eyes!" Then yes, I plucked them. The wind and rain were surely about to bash them to pieces and truth be told, I needed a bit of pretty to bring inside.

To keep up the illusion of happy Springtime on this stormy day, I have also started a quilt for a baby that could be coming any day now. Ooh, I'd better hurry shouldn't I?  I am using the most springy springtime fabric I had on hand.

I am using several fabrics from Urban Chiks - Dream On for Moda from a couple of years ago, and a vintage-ish green solid that I also had in my stash.

As you can see, it's easy pretending Spring with all these happy, pretty flowers about. Well, just as long as I don't go outside.

Are you impatiently awaiting Spring, or are on the other side awaiting Fall? Either way, may your week be a good one!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Wishing and Hoping

Today I am wishing the sun will poke through the clouds.

Today I am hoping that our local teachers get a much needed break from the long and arduous negotiations that suspended what could have been an historical strike.

Today I am wishing there was more time to get things done.

Today I am hoping to get more organized.

Today I am wishing for time with my family this weekend.

Today I am hoping that you all are having a lovely day!

P.S. The Stitched Journal Project's first show and tell is coming next Friday, February 28th.  If you left a comment wanting to join and did not receive a welcome email from me, that means your comment was "no-reply" and you did not send me your email. No worries though, you can still participate of course! If you want to receive emails and reminders, please send your email to me! Happy stitching!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday on my mind

Hello and happy Friday all! 

Today I just have a few things to share.

Thing One: I have started a Flickr Group for The Stitched Journal Project Participants. Feel free to share your photos of the project, start discussions, ask questions and enjoy the community of makers that are involved in this great project!

Thing Two: Speaking of The Stitched Journal Project, here is a great little overview of drawing with your sewing machine, or "freemotion" embroidery from Jennie of A Little Vintage! Maybe you would like to give it a try.

Thing Three: Finally, a really amazing bit of of inspiration from my dear friend Jane of Flaming Nora (she is also participating in The Stitched Journal Project, hooray!). This post and the work she has shared are truly wonderful! Please go see!

Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Valentines Day if you celebrate!


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Skirting the Issue

Well, well, well. It seems I am on a skirt making tear. Yesterday I took one of the Engineer's old work shirts, some scrap fabric and whipped this little skirt up. I had a plan and then I threw the plan out the window and made this instead. I'm really pleased with how it came out and I always love giving new life to old clothes. I even have enough shirt left to make a second skirt. This has me thinking... uh oh, that always leads to trouble! As I was saying, I was thinking about just how many things can be made from men's old shirts. I'm sure that you too, have seen your share of clever re-working tutorials using the good old button down shirt.

Why not add my own re-makes to the fray? I'm going to see how many skirts I can make from the couple of old shirts I have in my "formerly loved" pile. You may just see a month of skirts from shirts in March with tutorials. Why not? Sounds like a good time to me! What do you think?

Edited to add: Oops! Did I forget to mention that this skirt is for an 8 year old. So... it's all about kid size skirts. For now....

Monday, February 10, 2014

Snow Skipping

Oh my, what a time we've had the last few days! Portland received a rare snow storm; landing us with a foot of snow on the ground. Schools and offices shut down (since we only get heavy snow every few years, the city does not have the resources to clean it up and so things tend to shut down). So there was snowflake tasting, sledding, games, hot cocoa and nights by the fire. Schools should be back tomorrow and I can clean up the house after days of cabin fever. It has become a bit sloppy in these parts.

I did manage the smallest bit of sewing though. It was one of those things, you know, suddenly receiving inspiration from a good gawk at the internets. I happened to stumble upon this from Vicky Meyers Creations. She has made a really lovely version of my Skipping Skirt pattern from my book. I always love seeing what people have made from any of my patterns, what a joy! I remember creating this simple skirt pattern and it making me so happy. It really is simple sewing with endless possibility. So I was inspired by Vicky's version, to make a new one for my girl using whatever scraps I had on hand. Then a very bright and cheerful (ooh shocker!) Skipping Skirt was born.

Because the pattern is so quick sticks to put together, I spent a good old time embellishing some of the panels. All sort of willy-nilly and a little bit silly.

Thanks to Vicky for the inspiration to make this skirt. Added bonus; this skirt can be used to signal rescue teams in blizzards!

I also worked out a very easy modification to make this pattern into adult size. I simply added an inch in width and a few inches in length to each panel/pattern piece. As my daughter says, "Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!" I might make mine from slightly less wild fabrics, but only very slightly less.

I hope that wherever you are, whatever the weather, that you are safe and sound.

P.S. It looks like The Stitched Journal Project is off to a rollicking start! If you have sent me a message with your email, I will be sending out a welcome note very soon.  I'll have a follow up post later this week as well. Hooray!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Stitched Journal Project - Invitation

Last week I shared my Stitched Journal Project and asked if anyone felt like joining me in my year-long adventure. I was so excited to hear that some of you were indeed interested in joining! So, I thought that I would send out a proper invitation with a few simple guidelines to explain the project in more detail. If you missed the initial post you can read it HERE.

It is a project to get the ideas flowing, to process the days in a creative way, to try new techniques and to push past fears that keep us from making something.  It isn't about perfection, or getting it "just right," it is about process and perspective.

The Basics:
Sticking with the journal theme, the objective is to create one "page" or piece of work per month. I'm calling it the Stitched Journal Project, but by no means does that require "traditional" stitching methods only. I am also suggesting that you keep the pieces on the small side for simplicity sake and that you keep each piece similar in size to create a cohesive body of work at the end.
Edited to add: When I say small, it is simply a suggestion, I'm talking 12" x 12" as a rough guide. My first piece is 8" x 13" which was not planned, it sort of just worked out that way. You are welcome to go bigger or smaller depending on your preference.

At the end of each month, let's say the last Friday of every month, we will post our pieces and blog about them. If you are keen on participating, I would be happy to send out email reminders close to the time. I will link to your posts from my blog and would hope that you would link to others on your posts. If we get enough folks to play along, I will set up a Link system here.

I hear you asking, "but Lola, just what on earth are we supposed to make for goodness sake?"
That my friends, is entirely up to you! Still, I'll throw out a couple of ideas to get the old gears turning.

What to Make:
Perhaps you have been wanting to learn how to stitch patchwork, try a new quilt block a month if you like, maybe try your hand at designing your own quilt blocks. Make a sampler page of embroidery stitches, crochet swatches, or knitted squares. Play with color, create fairy tale scenes, try your hand at free motion machine embroidery, or go abstract. Re-create your favorite paintings in fabric and stitches. Stitch to your favorite music, what emotions, feelings and colors does it bring to mind? Use bits of old clothing and trims to tell the story of your life. Work in mixed-media, it doesn't have to be all thread and fabric; use photographs, scraps of letters and is limitless you see!

Next week I'll post some links to tutorials and some inspiration as well. 

If you would like to join in and want to receive email reminders, please let me know and include a way for me to get in touch. Leave a comment on this post or email me at If you know someone who you think would be interested, please share!

I can't wait to see what we come up with!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thursday's child has far to go

It has turned into a snow day! My girl and I are doing science experiments and putting dyed fabric up on the design wall. Looks a bit crazy, but we're having fun.

Hope you are too!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Today is the official release date of Brotherhood, the complete recordings 2 CD set.

A few people know that in the 1960's, my dad was the drummer for a band called Paul Revere and the Raiders. Very few people know that three core members of Paul Revere and the Raiders, my dad, Mike Smith, Drake Levin, and Phil Volk started another band in the late 60's called, Brotherhood.  They wanted to broaden their musical horizons, so to speak. They recorded three albums; 2 of them solid late 60's offerings, and 1 very experimental album (Friend Sound/Joyride). Unfortunately, they went relatively unheard.  

Today, these albums that have been out of print for 40 years, are being released for the very first time on CD. This is big news, it's about time!  I am so glad that more people will get the chance to hear these songs that were part of the soundtrack of my life.

I know this was a pivotal time in my father's life, and I think his heart was wounded when it didn't pan out.  I remember once in my 20s, a friend and I worked up a couple of the songs from the first Brotherhood album. My friend played the guitar and I sang the songs for my dad one night in an old wooden shed that perched over the banks of a pretty stream called Widow Creek. When we were finished, my father wiped his face with his hands trying to hide the tears running down his cheeks. Then he shook his head and laughed, "Oh now why would you want to play those old songs?" Because they are good songs, and a few of them are truly great.

A song like "Somebody," that holds my father's presence so profoundly, his drumming so clear and impressive; I can't help to think what a shame their collaboration was cut short. I would have loved to hear what a couple more years together would have produced.

Sadly, both my father and Drake Levin have passed, two formidable talents. I wish they could have been here for this release, to know that their music was going to be heard now. This surely would have been an emotional day for my dad. So many thanks to Phil "Fang" Volk, for your impressive memory, for telling the story, for all the work and the music. Thanks also to Bill Kopp, Real Gone Music, Vic Anesini and all those who made this happen at last.

Right at the height of popularity for Paul Revere and the Raiders, the band’s core power trio of Phil “Fang” Volk (bass), Drake “The Kid” Levin (guitar) and Mike “Smitty” Smith (drums) left to pursue their own more ambitious musical goals. Subsequent lawsuits and a run of bad luck meant that the first, self-titled album by their new band, Brotherhood, would be delayed, and received little notice at the time. Yet, by mixing a wealth of socially-conscious original numbers with hard-rocking reinterpretations of tunes by the Mamas and the Papas and Joe South, Brotherhood was a band brimming with promise. Between 1968 and 1969 the band released two more albums, one under their own name, the other a third, wildly experimental record (Friend Sound / Joyride) that drew upon Cage, Zappa and Stockhausen (and acid) for its influences. Bringing together music that has been out of print for over 40 years and never available on CD until now, Brotherhood: The Complete Recordingsincludes all three albums the group cut for RCA on two CDs, plus a definitive history of the band by Bill Kopp, based on extensive research and a lengthy interview with Phil Volk, who contributes a note of his own. Remastered by Vic Anesini at Battery Studios in NYC…one of the great lost bands of the late ‘60s

You can buy the Brotherhood CD set at:
Real Gone Music

Me, my dad 1972

My dad always told me that if you just can't help yourself from making music, you better do it with your whole heart and soul. "You'll spill your guts, you'll break your own heart and always want more. It's a wild ride with moments of life changing beauty. But mostly, it's just guts and broken hearts."

Monday, February 3, 2014

Hello Monday

“So. Monday. We meet again.

We will never be friends—but maybe we can move past our mutual enmity toward a more-positive partnership.” 
― Julio-Alexi Genao

Sometimes Mondays are hard. Even if you don't work in an office from 9-5 Monday through Friday, they can be daunting.  For me, Mondays are busy. Mondays are take my daughter to therapy days, grocery shopping days, bathroom scrubbing, kitchen cleaning and laundry days. Mondays are computer catch up days, pay the bills, answer email, cook a healthy dinner and heavy help with homework days.

Mondays are also my "Start the week off happy Blog days!" I am happy. I hope you're happy too! Still, today is a hard Monday, so I'm going to just tease you with a few things to come this week here in my happy place.

1. I have some lovely folks wanting to join up in the Stitched Journal Project. Hooray! I am so excited about this! So, I will be putting together some simple guidelines and officially sending out an invitation to any and all who might like to take part! 

2. I have an upcoming announcement concerning a music release that is close to my heart.

3. Oh dear, I could've sworn there was a 3rd thing... well you'll just have to stay tuned!

I do hope your Monday is a good one, not too hard and that the rest of the week is lovely!