Archive for the 'Crafty' Category

it’s Bazaar Bizarre time!

My marathon (parts 1, 2 and 3) is almost over. The last big event is the Bazaar Bizarre this Sunday in SF. I’ll be there sharing a table (officially!) with Girl on the Rocks.

The details:
Sunday November 30th 2008, 10:00am – 5:00pm
San Francisco County Fair Building Golden Gate Park, San Francisco (9th Avenue at Lincoln Way) – Map
$1 at the door – 50% of Proceeds go to Out of Site Center for Art Education

Need more incentive to stop by? I teamed up with Girl on the Rocks (moustaches, fiber and stitch markers) and A Verb for Keeping Warm (naturally dyed fiber and yarn) to offer a coupon!

Please stop by and say hello!

There are some really great other vendors at the show selling all sorts of wares – clothes, letterpressed cards, recycled notebooks etc. Our table will be next to the ever fantastic Sweet Meats (I’m sitting on the couch with my pork chop right now!). Just follow your nose to the moustaches and recycled vinyl banners. If you spot plush steaks you are right near by!

I’ve had a really difficult time deciding how much product I will need for this event. This is the first event where I have officially had part of a table and also the first time I will be bringing bags. I keep oscillating between thinking that there is no way I have sewn enough and that maybe no one will buy anything and I’ve got way too much stuff… I guess I just have to wait and see which scenario plays out. Wish me luck!

paris etc. (traveling part 3)

The last trip was for another conference, this on in Hyeres in the South of France (even, perhaps, near to where the naked ladies danced). Some of the employees at Air France had the good timing to go on strike for the day that I was trying to fly from Paris to the south (how French of them..). I was concerned that my complete lack of French language skills was going to be a problem when I arrived in Paris and would have to make alternate arrangements. It all worked out and I made it south despite my flight being canceled. Just to convince me that traveling by rail wouldn’t have solved my problems, the train went on strike the day we were to return north.

The conference hotel was set up on the hill near the old part of town. The vegetation was decidedly Mediterranean (like California) but the narrow steep streets and ruins of a castle at the top of the hill were quite unlike anything I would find at home.

After the conference I went to Paris for a few days to visit C, S and T. They moved there last July and I was eager to see how things are going for them. I was also excited to see in person how S’s etsy shop is coming along. I’ve seen the adorable photos and I’m here to say that the clothes are just as cute in person, especially on your favorite toddler.

Photo by collected orange, dress on etsy

I’ve never been to France before, so I spent my four days walking around Paris. The weather was mostly cooperative, with dramatic skies and occasional rain. We even got a little snow during our Sunday morning trip to the market. My friends showed me around town during the weekend, and I showed myself around the other days.

I peeked in the windows of a few Parisian crafty shops, but only took photos from the outside.
Ribbon store.

Yarn store (the skeins were hung on the wall in a lovely rainbow which is barely visible).

My travel knitting was a second pair of mittens from the Selbuvotter mitten book. The colors in this photo are off, but I had to show the perfect blue skies the morning I flew out.

I tried to sleep on the flight home, but I was really excited about flying over Greenland and catching a glimpse of sea ice so I did a lot of dozing on the window waiting for breaks in the clouds. I was rewarded a few times.

Now I’m back at home, a bit in a daze from the jet lag and wishing the sun were here! I must have left it in Paris…

losing the sun (traveling part 2)

I’ve been on a marathon for about a month and a half now. Only a few more days before I can really relax..

What have I been up to this whole time? Well, I’m glad you asked. First I went with N to his brother’s wedding in MD (but I mentioned that already…).

Next was the Color Fiber Festival. I actually missed about half of the festival because I had to go to my office and finish up my poster for the next branch of my adventure. Here we are setting up the Girl On The Rocks booth.

I got several really nice things at Color but I haven’t gotten a chance to spin any of them yet.

I think I am most excited about the drafted lamb’s fleece (Tanner, from Flynn Creek Churros). It is a lovely shade of chocolate brown and quite soft.

I also scored a gorgeous roving from Krista at Pigeonroof Studios. I kept looking through all of the selections and pulling the same one out, so I knew it was the right color for me!

Yak from A verb for keeping warm.

California Variegated Mutant (love the name!) from Tactile fiber arts.

The next morning I flew several thousand miles in the opposite direction to Hawaii for a conference and a few days of exploring. I made a best effort to spend as many sunsets at the beach as possible. I think I did pretty well.

I discovered a few things about traveling alone in a tropical locale. For one, it is difficult to put sunscreen on your own back. In response to this realization one person said that it would be an excellent opportunity to make friends on the beach. I chose to wear a shirt instead.

For lack of motivation to do much driving on my own I spent one entire day sitting on this beach:

It was time well spent.

When I returned home it was all of a sudden winter, and I was just in time for the election and a few days of intense work and a little sewing.

More sewing you might ask? Yes (!), more sewing. I’m frantically trying to prepare for the Bazaar Bizarre! I’ve been trying my best to cram a little sewing into all the cracks in my life. I’m going to make it (the show is this Sunday!) but I might not want to look at a vinyl banner or my sewing machine for a while afterward. If you are in the area please stop by! I’ll be at a booth with Girl On The Rocks – just follow your nose to the table of moustaches and recycled vinyl. Expect another post about the event soon…


N’s grandmother’s kitchen wallpaper. One word: fantastic.

N’s brother got married last weekend. The weather could not have been more perfect.

I couldn’t get enough of uniform + bubbles.

I’ve been sewing in all of the spare seconds I can find. I’m trying to get ready for Color Fiber Festival and the SF Bazaar Bizarre. Color happens tomorrow (!) so if you are in the Berkeley area and want to check out some local fiber artists and socialize with fellow fiber enthusiasts you should stop by the Pacific School of Religion. The hours are 10am to 5pm – see you there?

the next quilt

I bought this fabric in July in preparation for the next quilt we are going to make. I mentioned earlier that we were searching for pattern ideas to make a quilt for N’s brother for his wedding — we finally settled on a modified version of “Drunk Love Two-Tone” from the Denyse Schmidt Quilts book. Instead of two colors we are going with 3 (two blues and a green) and some patterned/colored highlights.

Making this quilt with more than two colors has really complicated things. Since the pieces have to be cut individually I had to plan out ahead of time how many of each color I would need. I laid the quilt pattern out in Adobe Illustrator (image above) to get a good balance of the three colors and then made spreadsheets to keep track of what had been cut. Cutting pieces seemed to take forever but we have *mostly* finished (I still need to cut the highlights) and I am finally on to the sewing.

Can you see it? There is a pile of sewn pieces on my desk and a pile of cut pieces on my work table. I’ve done a fair amount of crafting this summer but I haven’t written much about it. I think I can attribute this largely due to the lack of good lighting in my apartment. With N’s new job and long commute our evenings are more condensed and progress on the quilt primarily happens after 9pm (which doesn’t help the lighting situation either).

Even in the dim evening lighting (and less than perfect focus) I still love my desk. I can’t get over how cute the sewing machine is. Apparently other people agree with me, they put the same machine on the cover of ReadyMade for the August/September issue! It is working like a champ too which is good because my singer 301 is skipping stitches. I don’t know if I need to find someone to take a look at it but all of my attempts to modify tension controls and change needles and thread have failed to solve the problem. I’m not sure what we are going to do when we get to quilting everything together because there is no way the whole quilt is going to pass under the arm of my tiny featherweight! Does anyone have thoughts or suggestions for my ailing machine?


I was doing some blog reading a few weeks ago and came across some ceramics that triggered a memory. I really enjoy the designs over at Skinny laMinx. She regularly creates wonderful images of household items such as spoons and mugs, and a few weeks ago she showed a design she made for Heath Ceramics of their signature ceramic vases. She even got paid partly in tableware! The Heath factory is located only a short drive from here in Sasualito and I’ve been there a few times with my Mom. I love the look and feel of their dishes but I’m not sure I should be allowed to own any as I would probably break them immediately. Maybe if I find a teapot or mug at their factory…

Speaking of going to the Heath factory, the reason the name Heath catches my ear in the first place is from the work I did with my parents re-tiling their kitchen counters and bathroom floor. Below is a blog post I wrote for a diy-home type website, but I think it is time the story came to my blog to live. The following was written more than a year ago (March 2007) and we started with the kitchen counters in summer 2004.
In the last two years I have helped design and install a tile counter and bathroom floor that is less than traditional. It was a lot more time consuming and involved than a tile installation with only one or two types of tiles but I think the results are very rewarding.

The background:
My parents built their house in 1980 and it is just getting to the time where things like counters are needing replacement. The original countertop was made using seconds from a local handmade tile shop which were pretty but, after 20 yrs, a bit boring. They hemmed and hawed over what kind surfacing to put in. There were granites they liked but with a 4′ by 8′ island and a 3′ by 12′ counter a slab was out of their price range and tiles had a lot of variation. They liked the handmade tiles but they were somewhat bland over such a large area. They were really looking for something dynamic. I took my mom to a tile mosaic shop for some inspiration and we ended up walking away with boxes and boxes of tiles. The colors! The variety! It was wonderful. So we decided to make the counter a mosaic, albeit not your typical broken tile type. In fact we designed it much more with quilts than mosaics in mind. We made it all up as we went along and my parents like it so much we did the bathroom floor too!

Here is how we did it:
Shopping for tile
We shopped for tile at a tile mosaic store and also at factories near by. We happen to live close to two tile manufacturers: McIntyre Tile and Heath Ceramics. Heath had a whole room of seconds and overstock that were at reduced prices. McIntyre has one large sale of seconds etc. each year, usually in the fall. The mosaic store has since closed but stocked overstock, seconds, glaze samples and experimental tiles from several tile makers. Most of the tile was sold by the pound. We bought a large variety of colors, sizes and textures (including one box of matching tiles for a border) using a very rough estimate of what we needed and headed home. With this method you really need to buy more than you will use so you have some variety and choice while laying out the design.

The first thing I did was lay all of the tiles out arranged by color and size.

The 6″ tile color pallate.  Notice the old tile counter underneath (tiles also from McIntyre)

3″ tile color pallate

We set some basic parameters for our layout by deciding that the kitchen counter would have a 6 inch border of large matching tiles and then a 6 inch grid. The back splash and the bathroom floor were much more free form. I made a scale layout of the counter tops out of paper in another room and then walked back and forth choosing tiles out of the color arrays and placing them onto the paper layout.

Mock-up of the kitchen counter on paper.

The grid on the kitchen counter was done with interspersed 6″ tiles and then collections of other shapes and sizes to make a 6″ square. When we abandoned the grid in the bathroom it became much more difficult to account for the proper grout sizing but I was more comfortable with laying out the design by then and I was able to compensate. We had a tile saw available and we used it to cut down tiles to fit in obscure sized holes in the design. We made all of the border tiles (6″ by 12″) from 12 by 12 ” square tiles. With a little more planning (and different border tiles) we could have done without a tile saw at all.

Laying the tiles
For the kitchen we built the counters first using plywood sheets glued and screwed together and then covered with cement board. I drew a grid in directly onto the cement board with a sharpie for guidance. We laid the tiles in thin-set cement which we mixed in a 5 gallon bucket.

Laying the kitchen counter

Since the tiles were all laid out on the floor in the living room we had to transport them before putting them into the cement. We used a small plywood boards (3′ by 4′ ?) and would transfer small sections at a time to the board and then move the tiles from the board into the cement. This process didn’t work as well in the bathroom where we had no grid in the design. It was hard to account for the necessary grout thickness in the design phase so we had too many tiles when we went to put them on the floor. I was fairly comfortable with the shapes and sizes by then so I just re-designed that part of the floor as I was laying the tiles.

Bathroom Floor before border tiles and grout

There was a large variation in thickness of tiles since we were using anything and everything from a variety of sources. We accounted for this by applying a compensating thickness of cement to the back of each tile. Very thick tiles had almost no cement on the back while thin ones had a generous layer. After all the tiles were laid we used plywood pieces (the same boards from before) to apply an even pressure across the surface and push down any tile sticking too far up.

We let the cement set and then grouted using a neutral gray which went well with the range of colors represented. That’s pretty much it! Here is the bathroom floor complete (ok, the tiles are done but the baseboard still isn’t on).

Bathroom Floor with border tiles and grout

the Kitchen Island

And the backsplash

I would love to hear about other people with similar projects, my parents have never seen anything quite like it!

Thinking about quilts

It is hot today. Not soul-sucking humid and dirty New York City hot, but unseasonaly and uncomfortably hot. The National Weather Service has the official condition listed as “Hot” with a red picture of a sun. I am hiding in my cave-like apartment and the cat is sleeping in the darkest place he can find. I went outside to water my plants (poor things) in spite of the fact that we are in a drought and under water rationing. And yet I am sitting here thinking about quilts.

The last thing I want to do right now is turn on an iron or sit with a quilt in my lap sewing, but N’s brother is getting married in the fall and we have been planning to make them a quilt as a wedding gift. The quilt we made last summer was a rare opportunity where N wanted to make something crafty together and the couple seemed to really appreciate receiving a handmade gift of such a scale. The wedding is in October and while that is not quite around the corner yet I have a feeling summer is going to be over before I blink my eyes so I need to get moving on the project. Here are some thoughts I’m having:

1. Run and Fall, 2. amy butler doing turning 20, plus some, 3. Orange / Yellow Joel Dewberry Quilt: Front, 4. conran quilt – part of top, 5. coin quilt – top finished!, 6. sprout quilt mockup, 7. belle quilt – quilt top, 8. IMG_6008, 9. quilt front, 10. Amy Butler Happy Hour quilt, 11. Orange & Brown Quilt, 12. 19th Century Sampler, 13. Flying Geese Quilt, 14. Queen Size Love Bead Quilt Top, 15. orange, yellow, and green baby quilt, inspired by DS “couldn’t keep it to myself”, 16. finished Ice Pops quilt, 17. Roots, 18. Hop, Skip, Jump Quilt, 19. quilt top, 20. finished brick road quilt, 21. handkerchief corners quilt, 22. Big Zig, 23. what a bunch of squares quilt, 24. red and white Hop Skip and a Jump baby quilt, 25. Zig-Zag Quilt Top, 26. On the big-boy bed, 27. Horizons Quilt Front, 28. quilt, 29. skyline quilt, 30. Run and Fall, 31. Drunk Love 2-tone, 32. On and On, 33. Roots, 34. Coulden’t keep it to myself, 35. Ice Pops Baby Quilt – Front, 36. Completed quilt – Optical Squares


This past weekend I attended the Maker Faire. In addition to being a fantastic people watching event I had a few excellent conversations with folks showing off their creations. The people at the Instructables booth were even willing to laser engrave my vinyl bag for me. Fantastic! Epilog Laser was also in attendance and for a mere $8000 you can buy your own laser engraver. After learning this n spent the rest of the day asking how much he could charge me for engraving each of my bags and wallets. Considering my current sales numbers I am unlikely to help him pay that off…

I walked briefly thorough the Bazarre Bizarre but I was so over-stimulated and it was so crowded in there that I couldn’t calm down enough to actually check anything out. It is too bad, but the day really isn’t about shopping anyway.

I was also excited to see Ponoko there. I’m fascinated by the idea of being able to produce goods on fancy schmancy machines from my own designs. And locally no less! They are just getting started with shops in the US and I can’t wait to design something and send it their way. As an added bonus, I had a nice chat with the guy manning their booth (I’m sorry, I can’t remember his name!) who told me that he wanted to start Ponoko after he was involved with a climate blog called Celsias. I haven’t spent too much time looking around yet, but the site looks like a combination of science & policy news and discussion as well as networking for projects to reduce the impact of global warming. Yay solutions!

Every time I have been to the Maker Faire I spend a good part of the day thinking about how much my dad would enjoy it but I’ve yet to get him to come along. This year I spied a three wheeled car with a motorcycle license plate. Lets just say there has been some experience with that around his house. The ride may or may not look something like this:

(video from Karrie)


Twist set.

Pewter polwarth locks from A Verb For Keeping Warm. 3oz yielded 192 yds of navajo plied sport-ish weight yarn. It is nice and soft and squishy… I cant wait to spin the other two bags!

Mixed batt from Tactile Fiber Arts including alpaca, merino, bamboo, silk tussah, silk noils, angora and I can’t remember what else. Purchased at Stitches West 2008. 2 oz, 128 yards, two ply.

Merino-Silk (80-20), dark blue. 69 yards, navajo plied. This is a test skein to see how I like this fiber spun. I have lots left to make more.

The last skein in the top image is just some white domestic top. Handspun tweed chickens anyone?

color: a fiber festival

This past Saturday I spent the day surrounded by beautiful, wonderful fiber, and in my own town no less! It was the inaugural Color: A Fiber Festival bringing out the local fiber community for a day of classes, fiber tastings, shopping, and spinning. I spent the day working at Girl on the Rocks’ booth helping her sell roving, stitch markers, and of course, moustaches. I snuck a few of my recycled wallets and tweed chickens onto the table as well.

This is me with my entire inventory in a small tin standing in front of several car-loads of yarn and fiber being unpacked for the Tactile/A Verb For Keeping Warm booth next to us. Their stuff is not only fabulous but also voluminous! Here they are setting up, and this was just the beginning…

The event also hosted classes on drop spindling, hand loom weaving and fiber tastings. I participated in the rare wool breeds fiber tasting with Maia from Tactitle Fiber Arts. We tried 8 breeds/preparations including Icelandic (two ways), California Red, California Variegated Mutant (my favorite name!), Gotland and Polwarth. When I get myself organized I’ll add some finished yarn to the card in addition to the raw fiber sample.

I really enjoyed the Polwarth, so, though I yearn for chocolate colored Polwarth, I bought some Silver and Pewter locks from A Verb For Keeping Warm to tide me over until more chocolate is available. I also enjoyed the Gotland and bought some Indigo dipped roving from Kristine. Last, but not least, I bought some Wensleydale roving from Tactile. I didn’t even get a chance to check out the rovings from Krista at Piegonroof Studios because she was nearly sold out within an hour!

On Friday I spent some time over at Karrie’s getting all of her things ready for the show. I helped her start a new product: the ‘Stache Sachet. Aside from nearly asphyxiating ourselves with volatilizing essential oils (which we mixed with cedar chips and lavender) we also gocco-ed up some muslin bags. I just have to say, I loves me some gocco-ing. I wish I could think of more opportunities to print 50 copies of things!

I think the event owes a lot to those who organized it, thanks especially to Sara and Ted for keeping it all running smoothly. It was a wonderful day and I hope we get to do it again soon!