it’s been a really lovely spring here in the Catskills/Hudson Valley of New York, possibly a bit more appreciated than usual because of that super-cold winter we had. there’s been lots of warm sunshine and we finally got a dose of rain this week, and more is on the way. i’m extra excited about my garden this year and so far things are going well. the peas are actually almost a foot taller than this photo (taken last weekend) thanks to the rain! it had been quite dry for most of this month, so growth was very s l o w…
these are my Egyptian Walking Onions, with some volunteer kale flowering in between. one of my favorite things about gardening are all the plants that either survive the winter or re-seed themselves. i have about 10,000 baby kale seedlings thanks to self-seeding. and many kale plants simply live under the snow in a dormant state and then sprout new leaves when it warms up again. so we actually have greens to eat in late April/early May!
on the left is my first planting of lettuce from seed, which is nearly ready to start picking (and reminds me that i should sow some more so that we have salad all summer and fall) and on the right is my poppy patch. every year i mean to plant poppies which like to be sown when it’s still very cold, and even (bizarrely) like to experience some freezing spells. this year i finally got seeds in the ground in April, and they are looking quite good.
but the MOST exciting thing happening in our garden this year is that for the first time, one of our hens got “broody” and started to sit on eggs. since we happen to have a rooster, and we don’t usually, we thought we should seize the moment and let her do her thing. Midge is our oldest hen; she’s 5 years old! so 21 days after she started her vigilant nesting, one by one each of the 4 eggs cracked open just like in cartoons and out popped these wee bouncing balls of fluff.
Midge is being an excellent Mom, and it’s really fun to watch these chicks progress so much faster then our previous broods, because they are learning from a pro! i saw one of them eat a little caterpillar at about 3 days old. and they can live outside (in our original portable coop) because they’ve got Mom to keep them warm…
more chick pix to come, i promise…
the Hudson Valley area of New York, where i live, is filled with makers, growers, and all sorts of creators. it can take a bit of hunting though to find them, as their studios, homes, shops and farms are spread out over this vast, largely rural area and tucked away on dirt roads or in tiny towns. this is why i’m quite thrilled about a new addition to the creative community in these parts: Drop Forge & Tool. based in the thriving big town of Hudson, DF&T is the new project of (freshly-transplanted from San Francisco) Katharine Daugherty and Michael Hoch. i suspect they are soon to become a key hub of our local maker scene!
in their own words:
Drop Forge & Tool’s mission is to encourage and support the making of new work of all kinds: visual, performance, written, tactile, and musical. We host maker workshops taught by leading makers in their field, and a creative residency program to provide individual artists and small groups of all disciplines with much needed space and time to pursue what interests them most.
i am really excited to teach my first all-day workshop there later this month: Crochet Rag Rug. i always love teaching rug-making because it’s such a practical and useful craft. plus i could use a few new rugs in the house! i have a special discount code to share with you: HPF25 will get you 25% off the registration fee, which includes a locally-sourced lunch.
take a gander at their full list of upcoming workshops, as there are S O M A N Y good ones that i want to take! such as the debut English Paper Piecing one on May 5, for which i also have a 50% off code of InstaEPP. and i happen to know about a few that aren’t posted yet that you might go bonkers for, so be sure to sign up for their newsletter so you don’t miss out.
just look at this amazing space, begging to be filled with makery of all sorts! they host awesome performance events too, as well as artist residencies and a weekly handcraft night.
at the tail end of summer i’ll be teaching a super-fun weekend-long Make Your Own Dress workshop with special guest Lisa Congdon! Lisa will be in residence at DF&T and we’ll be using fabrics from her latest collection, Revelry for Cloud 9 fabrics. it’s a perfect excuse to make a weekend trip to Hudson…
i had a super fun time in San Francisco, filming 3 new Creativebug workshops that i can’t wait to unveil! for now they’re under wraps, but if you’re eager to move forward in the realm of designing and drafting your own custom sewing patterns, i suggest you brush up on my previous workalong class, Pattern Drafting, to be up to speed for the new material.
in the meantime, i’ve got some local and semi-local workshops happening over the next month, and i wanted to make sure you knew about them:
this weekend, April 17-19 is the 5th annual Yarn Cupboard Fiber Arts Retreat and Market in Syracuse, NY. unlike many retreats, this one allows people to come just for a class or two and to take in the market, so if you live within driving distance, you might want to come check it out! this year’s teachers include Norah Gaughan, Amy King of Spunky Eclectic, Lori Versace, Jill Draper, Emily Giraudin, Beth Coye, Jennifer VanValcar of Holiday Yarns, Christine Huppman of Knit Swirl, and Lisa Merian of Spinner’s Hill. I’m teaching 3 classes: Crochet on the Edge, Gaga for Grannies, and Crochet Color Play.
next weekend, 2 local classes at my two favorite local shops:
saturday April 25 — Block Printing and Stenciling for Textiles at Sew Woodstock
sunday April 26 — Gaga for Grannies at White Barn Farm
and the following weekend, May 2-3, i’ll be down in NYC, hanging out at my old haunt Brooklyn General Store to teach Patternmaking Simplified on Saturday and Custom Fit Leggings on Sunday.
gosh, i sure do get around. i hope to see you somewhere!
i’ve just updated my teaching page with what i’ve got planned thus far for teaching in 2015. i’m always updating this page so check back in as the year progresses to see where i’ll be. last year was a new record for me; i traveled to California, Colorado, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Maine and Texas to teach. that was a bit much, as i really am a homebody! i’ll be taking it a bit easier this year travel-wise, as i’ve got some projects i need to hunker down on…
which means i am extra glad to now have a wonderful place to teach sewing and patternmaking locally! i’m teaching Befriend Your Sewing Machine (2/7) and Make Your Own Leggings (2/14) in February (heads up: February starts on Sunday!) at Sew Woodstock. if you haven’t been to this warm and lovely shop yet, you really must visit. i’m also teaching a series of crochet workshops at my favorite sheep farm/LYS, White Barn Farm, beginning 2/8.
a fun new development is that i’m teaching a 7-week Design and Sew Your Own Clothes as part of the Saturday Arts Lab program at SUNY New Paltz, for ages 14 through adult. it’s rare that i get to teach such a long-format class, so i’m excited to have the opportunity! we’ll be drafting patterns, sewing and fitting muslins and then making final versions of a skirt and shift dress. starts 2/21; reserve your spot while there is one!
you guys! i could not be more excited about the newest work-along happening NOW* on Creativebug: Sketchbook Explorations with Lisa Congdon. i’m sure you know who Lisa is; she’s such a prolific + inspiring illustrator and teacher. i love her bright, clear, colorful and bold graphic style, and especially at this time of year we can all use a little creative energy boost! i had a lot of fun watching her previous workshop, Basic Line Drawing too.
back when i was in design school i did a lot of drawing and painting. we didn’t know then that computers would become household items and that things like paper and pens would become practically extinct. later, when i worked as a designer in the fashion industry, sketches were how i communicated my ideas to the bosses as well as the people who would actually make the clothes. but since i started working for myself (for over 15 years now) i’ve not had to show anyone my designs, nor convince anyone they should be made. and so i’ve fallen out of the habit of sketching. but lately i’ve felt the desire to play with ink and pencils again and see what happens…
i may have just accidentally purchased a new set of brush pens, some Micron pens, and a brand new set of watercolors, all of which i’m tossing along with my dusty sketchbook into the bag i’m packing with projects for my week at Squam Studio.
i’ve been keeping a pinboard of sketchbook inspiration for a while now, and felt really motivated after seeing Jen of Grainline’s sweet sketches of her winter wardrobe plans. also do check out some more of Lisa’s recent sketchbook spreads. i can’t wait to get started!
*note: the work-alongs are longer format classes with new episodes debuting each week over the course of a month. however, once they air, they remain available for watching indefinitely. so even if you don’t have time this week or this month, it’s never too late to join in!
i have a fantasy that plays in my head on a fairly constant rotation. in this fantasy, i am sequestered in a cozy, organized studio, equipped with any and all supplies i might need for whatever project is at hand (or the project that may present itself on a whim) with ample space. and absolutely nothing else. a big part of the dream is that there is NOTHING i need to do except create: meals will appear, dishes will be washed, all daily chores will vanish. i’ll be able to focus and play, and delve into new territories of mental freedom.
so, what i have been most looking forward to about January is that this fantasy of mine, IT’S COMING TRUE!!! i can hardly believe it. it’s like Elizabeth read my mind, and created a new kind of retreat, Squam Studio, that is exactly what i’ve always fantasized about. unlimited free time in a dream studio environment… and i’ve been invited to be the Resident Maker for the inaugural session. oh glory be!!! and of course, you can come too, if you like!
this wondrous escape will be held at a place like no other: a place few have visited, but those who have been there never wanted to leave. i’ve heard tales, i’ve seen photos, but i cannot WAIT to see it for myself. it’s the magical studio of madcap artist, teacher, stitcher, woodworker, landscape designer
Willy Wonka Terri Dautcher. i’ve been a huge fan of Terri since taking her legendary “3 Tools” workshop at Squam back in 2010, in which i defied my inherent terror of power tools and made a wooden toolbox.
i’m kicking myself for not telling you about this sooner (and a good reason why you should get yourself on the Squam email list if you’re not already), but though the January session is very soon (SQUEEE!!!), there will be another in October. hop over here and watch the video, and find out all the details. we’re gonna need to keep pinching ourselves…
see you in the woods!
p.s. oh yes, if you’re a dog lover: Gertie is coming with me! and Daisy and Oliver will be there!
p.p.s. all photo above courtesy of Squam Art Workshops.
here we are. a whole new year!
as usual i’m not quite done with the last one, but still we plow ahead.
January for me is always so filled with promise and potential… the previous 4 months are always something of a blur, leading up to the crazytown holiday craft fair season that really does a number on me. the whole time i keep telling myself: just wait until January. then you can relax, re-set the dials, take stock, maybe work on some things you WANT to do and not only things you need to do for others…
that’s what i say anyway. it keeps me going. the reality is that so many things get pushed back all those months, and now i need to finish them during my precious January. but still, it’s a better pace. there’s a little bit of free time, and the intense pressure is off.
i’ve got big plans. lots of ideas. projects to finish, and projects to begin.
Happy New Year dear readers!
note to self: in the future, don’t get a new dog* during the 4 months of crazy season. it doesn’t help.
*more on that later!
if you know me, you know that i’m not really a “plan ahead” kinda girl. the plotting and scheming and idea-hatching may start early on in my process, but before i know it, the deadline is nigh and i’m not quite ready. hence, my annual holiday gift scramble is always a mad dash. between craft fairs and filling holiday gift orders for other people, November and December are a total blur and i end up in an exhausted panic a few days before December 25, when my family expects their presents. not until that phase is done can i begin to think about all the other people i may have liked to give something to. so i’m thankful when perfect solutions come along in easy packages that i haven’t missed the boat for, like Creativebug’s end-of-the-year GIVE a GIFT / GET a GIFT deal:
Through December 31st, when you buy someone a 1-year Creativebug subscription, they’ll give you a 1-year subscription to keep for yourself!
which also happens to be my favorite shopping mantra, “one for them, one for me…”
if you need further convincing that Creativebug is about the most awesome thing ever, peruse some of their free classes, or even my own free Beginner Sewing: Market Tote Bag workshop, to get a feel for the wonders of online learning on your own schedule.
ack! the fairs are starting already! can’t let another minute pass without making sure you know that the craft fair season has BEGUN!!!
i know you want to shop local and support independent artisans, so if you’re in the Hudson Valley area, i hope you can come out and see us at the 2nd annual Hudson Valley Hullabaloo THIS WEEKEND!!! Kingston, NY is where it’s at, and the vendor list is a real who’s who of local talent. there will be handmade gifts galore, a photo booth, gift wrapping, food, music and FUN!!!
if you can’t make the Hullabaloo, i’ll also be in the Basilica Farm & Flea in Hudson over Thanksgiving weekend (check out the Black Friday Soiree from 5-9 Friday night for food tastings, cocktails and other festivities).
my last fair of the season will be the Indie Mart in Narrowsburg, a new one for me that i’m super excited about! hope to see you at one of them! and for all my pals who live in other parts of the world, please do seek out the small craft markets near you. shopping handmade is a triple WIN for you as the gift-giver, for the gift receiver, and for the artist whose love, time and effort went into the making of the gift.
i first met my friends Linda and Stephen Willette about 5 years ago when we were booth neighbors at a fiber festival further upstate. they are the cutest and sweetest couple you’ve ever seen, and they make exquisitely hand-crafted wooden tools for fiber artists: crochet hooks, knitting needles, yarn bowls, looms, and a whole range of objects i don’t even know how to use. somehow i don’t actually have a picture of them but you can just imagine my childhood heroes The Sunshine Family come to life and you’ll be pretty close.
one of the (many) reasons i look forward to Rhinebeck every year is that i get to see the Willettes and (sometimes) add a lovely new hook to my collection. if you’re going this weekend, lookout for them in Building C!
this year’s acquisition for me will be a large hook for crocheting rugs. and, i’ve been meaning to mention that the Rag Rug-Along is still going on (through the end of November!) and i’ve rounded up a few prizes, one of which is a Willette jumbo crochet hook!!! just post your rug pics (in-progress and finished) to Instagram (you do follow me, right?) and hashtag them with #cbugragrug.
ok, gotta run if i’m gonna finish my Rhinebeck sweater and wear it tomorrow! i took a super fun spinning class yesterday with Jacey Boggs who was a fantastically fun teacher. i’ll be there both days this weekend so say “hi” if you see me! and i’ll be spinning in my guild’s booth in Bldg 39 from 3-5 on saturday.