the Makerie (part 2.1): workshops/teachers THIS year!

so, who’s teaching at this year’s Makerie? as usual it’s a lineup of talented makers that i’m beyond proud to be part of: helen dardik, rachel faucett, kristen fitzgerrell, jennifer mercede, mia semingson, and my pal rebecca ringquist! i can’t wait to meet these creative ladies and hopefully take one of their classes too. the subjects include textile print design, embroidered patches, pajaki paper chandeliers, doodling, stencilled floor pillows, and…

this year i’m teaching Design Your Own Clothes, in which we’ll draft patterns for a skirt and a shift dress based on your own measurements. i’m also super excited about Kawaii Crochet Jewelry, a chance to play with crochet techniques in small scale which lend themselves to some adorable Japanese-inspired baubles. and my third class is On the Edge; all about using crochet to edge necklines, hems, pillows, or really any project or finished piece that needs a bit of fanciness.

won’t you consider joining us?

the Makerie (part 2): workshops/teachers (last year)

arguably the most important draw for any art retreat is the roster of teachers and workshops, which change from year to year. surely you have artists, designers or bloggers that you follow and admire, and if you learn that they are teaching at one of these creative getaways, i’m willing to bet you won’t regret going!

last year when i taught at the Makerie it was a special incarnation of the usual retreat, called the Makerie Sewing. the teachers were a dream team of the sewing world: Liesl Gibson, Amy Butler, Jenny Hart, Heather Jones, Kaari Meng, Tamar Mogendorff, and lil’ old me. yeah, i was pretty excited to be there!

one of the very few (maybe the ONLY?) downsides to teaching at awesome retreats is that usually we teachers can’t actually TAKE any of the amazing classes! however, a fun feature of the Makerie is that every teacher gets one free morning or afternoon so that they can (if they wish) take one, which also means that you might have one of us in class with you! last year i was extra-lucky and got to take TWO. first was an indigo shibori-dyeing workshop with the lovely Kaari Meng of French General (her shop in LA sells incredible textiles, and she organizes dreamy “Chateau Getaways” in the south of France!) SO FUN! i took about a thousand more pics than i’m including here, so if you want to see more pop over to my photo album.

we did lots of different resist techniques, some super-easy and some quite labor-intensive, to create different shapes on the cloth when it’s immersed in the dye…

the second was with genius soft-sculptress Tamar Mogendorff (watch the video on her site and you’ll fall in love too; she also teaches on Creativebug and is teaching next month at the Sweet Paul Makerie in NYC). we hand-stitched birds and cages and i just adore mine! it now hangs in my living room.

who would be the teachers at the crafty retreat of your dreams?

the Makerie (part 1): the setting

i’m getting so excited to return to the Makerie in April! i had such an amazing time last year, but — as with many events where i have a super awesome time and take a zillion pics — i never managed to get a blog post up, because i wanted to really do it justice. story of my life! argh. here we are 10 months later, and it’s coming ’round again in just 2 months. i am so honored to have been invited to teach there again!

as another year of teaching and traveling begins, i’m vowing to be better about sharing the stories and magic of art retreats. people often ask me how to choose the right one for them. as a teacher, my perspective is slightly different than it would be as an attendee, but it also means that i’ve been to a variety of crafty gatherings around the country, so i may be able to offer some guidance. to me there are many attributes that make up each unique retreat, among them location, workshops/teachers, flavor, and details. i’m sure there are more, but those are at the top of my own list…

let’s start with location: the Makerie takes place at the Colorado Chautauqua, in Boulder (though this year there’s also another incarnation, the Sweet Paul Makerie, happening in NYC in March). what a place! i am fascinated by the history of the Chautauqua Movement (so in line with our new breed of creative getaways!) but was mostly struck by the stunning landscape and adorably cozy cottages of this picturesque compound. it is set literally at the foot of Boulder’s Flatiron Mountains, and i now completely understand why people from out West scoff and say “those aren’t real mountains” when they see the small rounded mountains we have in New York.

the day i arrived there was an unseasonable and incredibly gorgeous snowstorm blanketing Boulder…

…so pretty! by the next day, temps were in the 50′s and everything was melting. over the course of the weekend sunshine and Spring buds were appearing, and it was just glorious. you know it’s true beauty when even I feel compelled to get up at 6am on a Sunday to go for a mountain hike!

location can be a factor in a few ways, aside from providing a spectacular backdrop. if you’re within driving distance, and especially if you can carpool with a friend (or make one by traveling together!), expenses can be reduced significantly. on the other hand, if you’ve been drawn to visit (or re-visit) an area far from where you live, a retreat can offer an ideal reason. i know of several pairs of sisters, and groups of friends, who use retreats as an excuse to get together and have creative together time, away from family and responsibilities.

it’s not too late to join us this year! registration is open, and there are full and local packages available.

i get around

happy new year peeps! i just wanted to let you know i’ve updated my teaching page with the major trips/retreats i’ve got planned for 2014, thus far anyway. i am thrilled to be teaching in some new parts of the country (Tennessee!!!) and returning to some of the lovely ones i visited last year (Colorado! Texas!). i’m a lucky girl. i have plans to share my experiences at some of these lovely places from last year, so you can consider joining me at some of them. the first one coming up is the awesome Makerie in April (Rebecca RIngquist is coming too!) so that’s my next post!

in the meantime though i also wanted to let you know that in two weeks i’m coming back to the Bay Area, to film some more Creativebug workshops and teach two classes at one of the most amazing fiber shops in the world: A Verb for Keeping Warm. last i heard the leggings class was sold out and there were 2 spots in the dress class. that sunday evening is also the monthly Seam Allowance meeting which by some miracle i’ll be there for, and i couldn’t be more excited. see you on the west coast!

you've got time

…or at least, that’s what i’m still telling myself! but then, i am chronically late, so you might not want to listen to me. i’m not making too many handmade gifts this year; it’s always a double crunch at this time of year since i do a series of holiday craft fairs in november/december, which saps a lot of my “making” time + energy, but i still have a few last-minute projects in the works…

anyhoo, i’m popping in here (that’s all i seem able to do these days) to tell you that my fine friends at Creativebug have given me 2 three-month subscriptions to give away: one for you and one for your favorite crafty pal (and there’s one more check off your list)! just let me know in the comments (by midnight on 12/22) which workshop inspires YOU for your handmade gift-ing, and one of you will be randomly chosen as the winner.

if you need more gift subscriptions, or [sniff!] don’t win, there’s a crazy half-price sale going on through 12/31. i think it’s a clever idea for lots of hard-to-shop-for creative types, from kids to your quirky aunt, and it can be accomplished instantaneously AND at the last minute! you know, if it comes down to that…


see you this weekend at the first-ever Basilica Farm + Flea!

hello! hope you had the most beautiful Thanksgiving yesterday! i sure did, but now it’s back to work for the rest of this weekend, so i’m just popping in for a quick note to make sure those of you within range know about the first-ever Basilica Farm + Flea! if you’re anywhere near Hudson, New York, i urge you to come and check us out! we open tonight with the Black Friday Soiree from 5-9, and go all weekend from 10-6 both days.

i’m very excited and intrigued by this event… part BUST Craftacular, part flea market, part farm and foodie festival! three of my favorite things in one giant amazing space, owned by local rock star Melissa auf der Maur.

hope to see you there! and if you’re closer to my neck of the woods and can’t make it to Hudson, i highly recommend a visit to the loveliest of intimate craft fairs: CRAFTED : : Made in the Hudson Valley which also takes place this weekend. it breaks my heart to not be there with all of my pals! if only i could do both, i would… give them my love!

back in the saddle!

well, not quite yet, but i’m here in Texas at Lucky Star Art Camp and tomorrow– squee!– i am signed up to get back in the saddle for the first time in 30 years*. riding was a big part of my childhood and i’m BEYOND excited about this!

i can already tell this week is gonna be lots of fun in so many ways, despite the fact that i now know to look out for the tarantulas, scorpions and rampant wild hogs that are native to these parts.

if you want to keep up with the fun, follow along over on Instagram!

*in case you’re wondering, that’s me with Bobbi Gold, Salty, Ebony, and Foxy above. yes, i still remember their names…

book review: Skirt-A-Day Sewing

there’s a new clothes-making book on the block! let me introduce Skirt-A-Day Sewing, by one of my long-time stitchy pals, Nicole Smith. i’ve worked with Nicole for many years while she was an editor at various sewing mags, including Adorn and Sew Stylish. if you love sewing skirts, you will definitely want this one in your library! it shows you how to draft your own skirt sloper, then turn that sloper into 4 key skirt silhouettes, and then modify those 4 patterns in 7 different ways, for a total of 28 skirt projects!

the first chapter, Gear Up, focuses on the tools and materials you’ll need to make the projects. the second, Construction Zone, shows step-by-step tutes on sewing techniques you’ll be using, such as seam finishes, zipper installation, and ways to hem. the third chapter is the one which explains how to draft your own custom skirt sloper, which will be the foundation for making all of the skirts in the book fit you.

here are some of my favorites:

there are lots of cute skirt styles in the book, to suit every taste. i love the green Twiggy Skirt with its big buttons and topstitching. and the pleated Great Scot skirt is rather adorable too…

the 4 main silhouettes are: wrap, straight, flared and high-waisted. i’m partial to the flared ones because i think they’re the most flattering.

the Block Party skirt includes a clever play on stripe direction, something i always love to play with too!

i think my favorite skirt in the book is Piece Gathering. and that ikat fabric? divine! [note to self: must ask Nicole where she got it!]

the Girlie Show Skirt is also super cute and seems like a staple wardrobe piece everyone could use in their closet, easy to dress up or down…

if you want to get radical, the New Wave Skirt has spiral-y curved darts that are super cool.

i think this book is perfect for all of you who have my book and want more challenges and styles in the skirt department. this should keep you busy! it also goes into much greater detail about the sewing aspect, and will be a great reference resource on techniques and options.

leave a comment below saying what is your favorite style of skirt, for a chance to win a copy of this book! comments will close at midnight on Monday, 9/23 and i’ll announce the winner on Tuesday.

you can also see a preview of the book over here, and check out the other stops on the tour for more chances to win a copy (some may have ended since i’m the 2nd-to-last stop, sorry!):

9/9   Jane of All Trades
9/10 Sewing Rabbit
9/13 Kollabora
9/16 Windy Lou
9/17 Brett Bara
9/18 Craft Buds
9/19 Hodge Podge Farm
9/23 Sew Mama Sew

paper doll

when i moved up to the Hudson Valley from NYC in 2009, i knew exactly 2 people who lived up here, and wondered how i’d ever make new friends since my plan was to become a complete hermit. i also wondered if i’d ever be able to find *my* kind of people… makers, artists, oddballs… i suspected they were up here, but when you live in the woods, how do the introductions get made?

i needn’t have worried. the makers will always find each other. i was selling my handmade clothes at a farmers’ market when the sunny smile of Jenny Lee Fowler appeared before my eyes. she introduced herself and i felt star-struck because i was already a big fan of her work; within minutes we had arranged a trade of one of my dresses for a piece of her artwork, and we’ve been friends ever since…

this is the silhouette portrait she made for me, framed by a crochet doily! isn’t it spectacular? when she works with a live subject she cuts purely by eye; she doesn’t draw them first. this is just so fascinating to me… i love watching her cut out the image of the person sitting before her, with her nimble fingers and tiny sharp scissors. they only take a few minutes, but i know they become treasures for life to all who are portrayed…

the piece above, once unfolded, becomes the piece below:

i could go on and on posting images of my favorite works of hers, but you can just pop over to her shop or photo albums to see more. i just adore her choices of subject matter, usually “reflecting her deep love of folk, flora, and fauna.” and, if you didn’t know, Jenny is also teaching four workshops at the Taproot Gathering next month: Botanical Paper Cutting, Advanced Botanical Paper Cutting, Birch Bark cutting, and Family Paper Cutting. each looks more fun than the next; as usual the desire to take every one almost overrides my excitement for teaching my own!

i think you know, but i’ll remind you once more that registration closes tomorrow (August 15). i just don’t want anyone to miss out!

all images courtesy of Jenny Lee Fowler.

collage crochet

photo by Thea Coughllin

as Summer whizzes by, while i try to savor these days to their fullest, i am also looking ahead and preparing for the workshops i’m teaching this Fall. one that i’m SO looking forward to is Collage Crochet at the Taproot Gathering in September. you all know that one of my roles in life is Crochet Crusader, and one of my goals for this class is that it will illustrate many of the reasons i love to crochet…

that photo above? that’s elizabeth, in her spirit session with thea coughlin. it is so delightful to me that elizabeth chose to wear her shawl that i made for some of those portraits, because one is supposed to wear what makes them feel happy, comfortable, and beautiful. that shawl was the inspiration for this class, and is an example of the way i like to crochet best: no monogamy to any one yarn, or stitch, but rather a spontaneous series of choices that can change with each row, or not, as my mood would have it. when i sit down to start a project, i often decide only whether it’ll be a hat, a shawl, a cowl… and leave the rest to serendipity…

Are you ready to play with hook and yarn like brush and paint?  We are gonna do that!  We’re even going to experiment with some tapestry (colorwork) techniques. All you need to know are the most basic crochet stitches: chain and single crochet, and you’ll be on your way to hooking up a magical wrap that will forever remind you of your time at Squam.

The beauty of crochet is that it lends itself so easily to a playful, freeform approach: mixing yarns, colors, textures and stitches can yield a new fabric every time you pick up your hook!

i hope some of you will be joining me for this glorious day of crocheting, in a cabin in the woods, by a lake. so many people, especially of those who knit, know the very basics of crochet, but have no faith in their ability to dive in and make a beautiful project. this is the ideal opportunity to spend some time getting to know this technique that lends itself so well to improvisation and play!

i’m developing several shawl *formulas* for different shapes of wraps (or scarves, or blankets), all of which are very adaptable, and can be worked until you decide they are done.

all of the choices– fine or chunky gauge,  smooth or fuzzy yarns, simple or fancy stitches, tonal or riotous colors, warm and cozy fabric or open lacy fabric– will be yours to make…

we’ll experiment with some colorwork, or tapestry crochet as well, to add yet another dimension of pattern to your shawl if you wish.

registration for the Taproot Gathering closes this week– August 15– so don’t delay sending yours in!

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