Tuesday, December 31, 2013

See Ya Later 2013

Is it cheating if I try to sneak one more blog post under the wire this year?

2013 has been a full year for me.  Full of amazing moments, and some challenges too.  I guess you could say that about most years.

The times spent with family were of course my favorites.

Some people pick a theme for the coming new year.

My 8 yr old picked "Europe" as his theme word.  I told him that sounded expensive.

My 4 yr old picked "Movie_Theater" as his theme.  That sounds more like my budget.

My husband picked "Get_A_Babysitter" as his theme word.  That sounds good by me. 

My theme is still rolling around in my brain, and I reserve the right to think about it for at least another day, but it will probably relate to setting priorities, finishing what's important, and getting an incredible amount of creative work complete in the coming year.

Above, you're enjoying a photo of a twig that I wrapped with yarn and hung pom poms off of, made with my new Clover pom pom maker - which by the way is very very cool.

The paper stars were a gift from my friend Pamela, a super talented textile designer.  She's hosting a tea towel give away right now on her blog Paint Me Bright that you need to enter.  It is so incredible.  Wouldn't a new tea towel calendar be the best way to ring in 2014?  Of course it would.  

Happy New Year to you all out there.  Thank you for reading my blog, thank you for all your comments, and for the inspiration I get from read your blogs.  I wish you the best for the coming year.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Holiday Wishes

The Christmas season is usually a busy one for us, and this year has been no exception. 

Most of the rest of the year is spent running around for other reasons, but these days we have been working on getting gifts wrapped, food cooked, and doing deeds that lead to making people smile.  It's a good cause and one that puts me in a good mood.  Even with all the busy...it is hands down my favorite time.

The kids enjoyed their gifts and are still playing with them even days later, which is a good sign.  The books were a big hit this year with our older one who has grown into being quite the bookworm.

Speaking of bookworms, I was excited to get a new cookbook called The Daily Soup.  It came recommended on this podcast I like, called Knit Knit Cafe, from podcaster Abby - super awesome to listen to, BTW.  I'm really looking forward to playing around with the new recipes.  I'll be reporting back on all the best ones. 

As for the creative work, I'm sewing away on my skirt still but it is progressing inch by inch.  I'm not sure how else these sorts of extremely detailed projects progress.  Don't they say that all journeys begin with a single step or something like that?  Is that supposed to make you feel like it's OK that it's taking F O R E V E R ?  Well...I'm patient, but still...progress is shall we say, on the slow side.

So are you picking a theme for 2014?  I'm thinking about it.  I usually try to...gosh, not a lot of time left to do that.  Ok, will hunker down and decide soon. 

Maybe it will have something to do with Instant gratification, since my little sister recently got me playing around with Instagram.  It's fun and low hanging fruit to share some quick images.

Hope that all of you had an awesome holiday and that the coming year will be even more creative than 2013 was for you.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Holiday Skirt that Wasn't & The Great Search for the Perfect 2014 Calendar

Before I turned my eye to the final push of Christmas cards and gift wrapping, I had lofty ideas of finishing my Alabama Chanin DYI kit skirt before the holiday party.

Well...it's looking like I may wear it next year instead.  Maybe I'll have to host a summer BBQ or something when it is finally done. 

It's not that sewing it is a chore or anything, it is just slow going because I think the pattern I picked out, called Facets, has mostly very small pieces with only a handful of larger cut outs.  I'm enjoying it and plugging along at it, and will probably not drink red wine while wearing it if you know what I mean.  I am also really glad that I decided NOT to put beads on this project.  That might have killed my chances of ever finishing it.

In past years I have had more cycles for play time.  I used them to create a custom Quilt Otaku Calendar.  It was really a labor of love and took me several hours to create.  This year, I'm behind the 8-ball so to speak and looking to order a calendar made by some other creative genius.

Design Milk hosted a modern calendar round up which I really liked.  The Risograph calendar by Jp King from Paper Pusher is a leading contender for me, but I haven't bought it yet.  I'm open to other ideas if people have them.  What calendar are you using in 2014?

Is it too much to also get the daily Polaroid calendar?  A new Polaroid photo each day...it's called the Poladarium 2014.  They even have a call for entries into the 2015 version.  Hm...I wonder if any of my favorite images will make the cut for that.  Cross your fingers.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

It's almost time!

It's almost time for St. Nick to turn up.  Until his arrival, our gifts for family and friends are all wrapped up and en route to the right spots.

Here's hope they all get to the right spots.

I used white gel ink pens and brown craft paper along with silver sparkle baker's twine to pull it off.  Oh yes, and some colored pencils too.

The package that my son is holding up is for our uncle who's birthday is on Christmas, so we never forget to send an extra gift for him.

This year I'm asking for Santa to bring some anti-cough vibes to our household.  Everybody has a cough and the horrible air quality due to the Big Sur fire is certainly not helping.  Send a cough-free thought our way here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmastime is here

Holiday prep is in full swing around here.

Lots of wrapping, this year with mostly hand-decorated paper.  Kids have had a blast helping out with that.  A couple got decorated with some stamps from Yellow Owl Workshops

It's been fun to wrap a bit here and there and to have help, rather than trying to do a big push and wrap it all late in the game, as per our usual.

We're listening to Diana Krall's Christmas songs while our hands are busy working.

Yarn Whisperer interview on Wisconsin public radio was something that I ran into recently and really Enjoyed.  Clara Parks recently wrote a book about her life in knitting and yarn, after her life in tech, in Silicon Valley.  I kinda want to read the book after listening to this cool interview.  Maybe I'll put it on my son's kindle when he's not looking.

This is my favorite time of the year, and I'm enjoying it.  Hope you are too!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mochimochiland Contest Winner (me!) & Empty Spools

I have luck in some things, but I've never been one to win a lot of contests.

That changed a little bit today when Anna Hrachovec from the famous MochiMochiland knitting books and blog selected one of my photos for Honorable Mention in the annual photo contest.  Check out the other winners here.  For more about my photos of the teenie turtles (knit on something like size 00 needles, if I recall...) check out some of my past posts on knit mochimochi turtles.

Thanks very much Anna for hosting the contest and for making me blush by selecting me from so many entries for this cool honor.  Perhaps it's time for me to knit a mochimochi Yeti.

I finally watched this really campy movie last night called The Perfect Game about a Mexican Little League team who had such a cool real life story that they made it into a movie.  Although it was a bit low budget, the movie itself was heart warming and I enjoyed seeing it.  While watching I worked a bit on my Alabama Chanin DIY skirt, and in the end found myself with an empty spool.  I'm wondering how many more spools to go before it's done!  Maybe another 4 or 5?  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Alabama Chanin Skirt Kit: Hand Applique

It's one thing to hand applique a 4" x 6" piece of jersey as a drink cup coaster.  It's quite another to undertake making an entire garment, like for example a skirt.

After playing around with lots of small 'coaster' projects to learn what time investment goes into the various methods of working with jersey, I have finally jumped off the diving board into the deep end.  The good news is that the water is warm.

We have a holiday party coming up with the weekly quilting & knitting group in less than 2 weeks, so my thinking is that I probably will not finish the skirt in time to wear it to that but I'm having fun working on it and the construction is done.  Applique is a joy, and Alabama Chanin finished garments are to die for.

Right now, my excitement about sewing this skirt far exceeds the amount of time I have at my disposal to play with it.  Still though, pressing on....


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Oops I Did it Again: Handsewn Book

Handmade books have crept into my heart lately so I made one for my mom's birthday gift.

The cover is hand marbled paper that I purchased.  Someday I would love to try to make some myself.  I think all I need a this point is two seconds to rub together.  Interesting how difficult that is to find sometimes.

I hope she gets some use out of it.  I did some calligraphy for her on the inside cover to personalize it and attached some Japanese index label stickers by Midori to the back inside cover using a couple pieces of washi tape.  The sticker tabs can be use to divide up sections of the book for different topics.

When I was in Kinokuniya recently I picked up a book that of course is in Japanese so I cannot even read you the title.  it is an adorable 'stick figure' -ish style that looks super Japanese.  It's pretty cute.  I'm not quite able to draw everything  but some things are so simple that even a kid could replicate them.  Picture of the book cover here.

On other fronts, we are starting to attend Christmas Tree lighting ceremonies, holiday school band concerts, and think about where our own decorations are hiding in storage.

And the other night I unfortunately watched the first disk of Game of Thrones.  Oh my goodness, too intense for me...off to remove the rest of the disks from my queue, pronto!  Who has a stomach to watch such things!?  Wowza, not me.  Do you guys watch this?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

'Tis The Season

With Thanksgiving behind us here in the US our thoughts are starting to turn to the Christmas Holidays.

The kids and I made an Advent calendar together today 'Just In Time' to open the first installment on December first.

It was a lot of fun, I'll have to take a decent photo of it for you.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday we ended up visiting Southern California with a brief stop through Los Angeles.

The Last Bookstore is located in downtown LA and is a HUGE shop where you can get almost any book you could imagine, used, for a great price.  The kids went crazy in the children's section, grabbing up handfuls and handfuls of books, begging me to buy out half of the store.  I bought them a copy of A Light in the Attic which they have fallen in love with.  It makes them really laugh.

The shop itself is a beautiful space, I highly recommend a visit if you have the chance.

On the 2nd floor, there is a small but very interesting yarn shop called Gather.  I was smitten by their boxes of tiny 'mystery yarn' balls for $5.  You could make a lot of striped socks for next to nothing.  They also had sock yarn by a British company called The Uncommon Thread.  I picked up a skein of their Lush Twist in a cream colorway called Manuscript.  Very pretty, will have to finally knit myself some socks from it.

I also did some sewing on the trip.  I'm working on an Alabama Chanin style 'coaster' - meaning a very small piece of fabric that you may use to put your coffee cup on.  It has a ton of bead work on it and has been quite slow going.  Sewing with beads has proven to be fun but it is far from a speedy undertaking.  I want to eventually use this technique on a larger project but it will likely be limited to the lower couple inches of a skirt or the lower sleeves of a bolero or something.  Photos of it soon for you.

And in other news, Jay recently left me a comment to a link where you can get EVEN MORE Yoko Saito books in English (thanks Jay!), so check out this shop called Willow Lane Quilting Company - it looks quite cool.