every year i have big plans to send out holiday cards, bake lots of cookies, and make all of my holiday gifts. i have amnesia about the fact that november and december are the busiest months for my work, what with craft fairs and filling orders that check off other people’s lists. so typically, most of my handmade holiday fantasies fall apart.
but as soon as i saw my pal Courtney’s class on painting your own watercolor holiday cards** on Creativebug, i knew i had to try it. i happened to have a new set of watercolors (more on those in a second) i’ve been dying to dip into, and oh yeah i probably haven’t painted with watercolors since i was in high school. as i suspected, Courtney makes it look very approachable and i whipped out 12 cards in about an hour and a half of Sunday evening fun.
i was partial to the wreaths because i liked the organic simplicity of painting the leaf shapes with the brush, and i added a single snowflake to each envelope.* they are certainly not masterpieces, but they did get me out of my comfort zone in a really fun way. mostly i’m just super happy that i actually made these, and will send them out as Happy New Year cards.
SO! it’s worth noting that if you are anywhere near as last-minute as me, or just find that additional gift or project needs still pop up before the end of the year, Creativebug can be a great solution. their biggest sale of the year is going on through the 31st of December: Give a Gift, Get a Gift subscription in 3, 6 or 12 month increments. the 12-month plan for only $50 is a 58% savings off the regular price!
there are lots of cool last-minute gift projects (like this Fringed Scarf workshop with Anna Maria Horner, and i’m sure we all have something in our fabric stash we could turn into a scarf!) and also baking lessons with the Wilton crew (i still plan on baking some cookies this week…).
oh yeah, about those watercolors! my darling friend Beverly gifted me this sweet set of the most awesome handmade watercolors in a tiny Altoids tin from Greenleaf & Blueberry and i think it’s the best thing ever. Bev is a fan and i admired her set when we were in Maine, and now i’m totally crushing out on them too. they make their paints with natural geological pigments, gum arabic, and honey!
*forgive the 11pm poorly-lit kitchen photos; i planned to re-take them this morning but it’s currently raining and even darker.
**all the Creativebug links here and throughout my site are indeed affiliate links, so i get a few bucks if you sign up after clinking over. thanks!
if you’re looking for me this weekend, i’ll be in the picturesque Catskills town of Narrowsburg, NY, right on the PA border. this will be my 2nd year at the Indie Narrowsburg Holiday Mart, and i’m honored to be included in this lovely community of artisans! i met so many great makers, and there was a nice diversity gift ideas, from art to food to clothes and winter woolies. the event is organized by Allison of Madame Fortuna and Pam of Mayer Wasner, both of whom have lovely boutiques on Main Street. if you’re in the mood for a day trip from the city or surrounding areas, this tiny town has a surprising amount of activity! i highly suggest you have a meal at the heron, probably the best restaurant i’ve eaten at since moving upstate from NYC. and i hear they’ve got a new speakeasy performance space which i plan to visit saturday night…
note: the market goes on next weekend too, but with some different vendors, and i’m only there this weekend.
oh gosh, it’s that time of year again! i’ve got one more craft fair left (this weekend! the Holiday Indie Mart in Narrowsburg, NY!) and THEN i can finally start thinking about my own gifting. it happens every year: i can’t think straight until about mid-December because the craft fair season inconveniently occurs simultaneously with gifting season… ahem. well, of course that’s actually a good thing, and i do stock up on some great giftable items while i’m working at the markets. but my aim here is to suggest some ideas for the Makers in your life, and do double good service by supporting indie maker businesses at the same time!
how divine is this Flowers at my Fingertips sewing kit kit (it’s a kit to make a kit!) from A Verb for Keeping Warm? i don’t know any stitcher who wouldn’t be thrilled to receive this, along with Kristine’s lovely new book, The Modern Natural Dyer.
this adorable organic screen-printed t-shirt sums up my basic gifting (not to mention life) philosophy: Stitch more, buy less. brought to you by the awesome maker-space A Gathering of Stitches.
if you know a crocheter, i bet she would love one or both of The Crochet Project’s books, available as print or digital editions. and how about a hand-carved wooden crochet hook from Stephen Willette?
i’m all about experiential gifts, which are most awesome if they result in time spent together between you AND your loved one. whether you live near each other, or use it as an excuse to travel and meet up somewhere non-local, workshops and retreat gift certificates make wonderful gifts. here’s a short list of spots i can personally attest to as being lovely spaces, run by fantastic makers, with high-quality instructors, but i’m sure there are lots more:
a gathering of stitches (portland, ME)
a verb for keeping warm (oakland, CA)
brooklyn general (brooklyn, NY)
clementine (rockland, ME)
craftstitute (ithaca, NY)
craftwork (somerville, MA)
fancy tiger crafts (denver, CO)
sew woodstock (woodstock, NY)
the workroom (toronto, Canada)
white barn farm (new paltz, NY)
shakerag workshops (sewanee, TN)
squam art workshops (holderness, NH)
lucky star art camp (hunt, TX)
i’ve got some more ideas to share, but that’s gonna have to do for now. this maker’s gotta make some more stuff for my fair this weekend!
a few of my maker pals and i thought it’d be fun to do this as a series among us, so see also Bev’s, MaryLou’s, and Gale’s (coming tomorrow) gift guides! and i bet AmyLou might whip one up too.
you guys! my travels for the year are done (Texas was super FUN and i will tell you all about it soon!) and it feels good to know i’m sticking close to home for the remainder of 2015. this weekend i’ll be in Kingston selling at the 3rd Hudson Valley Hullabaloo, a lovely artisan market with loads of personality! so many of my favorite local artisans will be there; take a gander at the vendor list if you’re curious, plus food, music, and 2 kinds of photo booths!
also coming up quick (December 5) is my Embroidery & Applique workshop at Drop Forge & Tool in Hudson. these two endlessly helpful skills can help you make gifts more personal, commemorate events, hide mending or stains, or just give a tired old item a new life.
and on December 6 i’m teaching Hook Up a Hat at White Barn Farm in Gardiner. Learn how a simple formula enables you to crochet hats for any size head, with any yarn, in any gauge.
see you ’round the neighborhood!
in about a month, i’ll be heading down to the Texas Hill Country for what has become one of my favorite teaching gigs of every year: Lucky Star Art Camp. this will be the 3rd year for this event and it just keeps getting better! i wanted to let you know that it’s not too late to join me if you’re needing a little Autumnal getaway; registration is open until October 16 at noon.
the setting is spectacular, right on the Guadalupe river, and Texas is gorgeous in November! warm days and cool nights mean most of the workshops take place outdoors, but you might need a cozy blanket in the evening around the fire…
most evenings we sit around the campfire and sing along with in-house Rock Star Mandy Rowden.
did i mention the FOOD? local, healthy, farm-to-table Southwestern fare. you won’t go hungry!
Ranch House #2 has been my home-away-from-home both times i’ve attended Lucky Star.
Lucky Star feels like summer camp; in fact it’s held on a campus — Camp Waldemar — that is indeed a girls’ summer camp since 1926, founded by a real live cowgirl! so there are lots of activities that bring back the awesome memories of being a kid and attending camp: riding horses, singing ’round the campfire, swimming in the river, and yes, leather crafting! but then there are the workshops, with more grown-up and super-fun subjects like Selling Your Art Online, Making Cheese at Home, Apothecary Cafe, Girl Guitar, and Making the World a Bluer Place (aka Shibori dyeing with indigo)! the awesome group of teachers, some local and some who travel from afar, have so much to share. i wish i could take all of the classes myself!
i always offer a mix of sewing and crochet, so this year i’m teaching Sew Your Own Leggings, Zip It!, Crochet on the Edge, and Stitch It! the embroidery workshop has become something of a tradition and this will be my 3rd year doing it. last year we had a huge group of beginning crocheters, so i hope to see many of them expand their skills this year in my edgings class.
the guitar (and ukulele!) class gave a moving performance the last night of camp.
for me, my absolute favorite thing about Lucky Star is the horses. i had a pony and a horse as a kid, and rode many days a week while growing up, but it had been thirty years since i’d been in the saddle! riding through the Texas hills at sunset and seeing the native flora and fauna from the back of a horse is definitely a highlight.
i hope you can join us this year! take a peek at the schedule to get a tiny taste of how much fun you’ll have. see you in Texas!
last week we launched Part 1 of my newest online workshop for Creativebug, Pattern Drafting with Knits, and i showed you how to use your Master Pattern to make a more fitted knit empire waist dress. today, Part 2 is live, and i’ll be teaching you how to draft your own custom-fit hoodie! i don’t know about you, but hooded sweatshirts are a staple in my wardrobe. i must admit though, i had never made one myself before! i’m pretty happy at how my sample came out (i even made the crazy choice of using stripes for my first attempt) and have been living in it ever since getting it back from the photo shoot.
i’ll also show you more style variations, all originating from that same shift dress pattern. some of these use the pattern with the ease removed, and some have the additional positive ease we add for the hoodie. the possibilities are really infinite!
this cozy yellow French terry tunic with reverse patch pockets is fast becoming another staple of my Autumn wardrobe… what are YOU going to make?
you guys! all of you who’ve been asking for more pattern drafting and sewing workshops from me are in for a treat! i’m super excited that my newest online class, Pattern Drafting with Knits, debuts today. it builds on my original Pattern Drafting workshop from last year, which mainly focused on wovens, and shows you how to use that master pattern to make all sorts of new additions to your handmade wardrobe, like the empire waist dress you see above.
a big factor in converting the pattern to knits is adjusting the ease. in Part 1, i’ll show you how to take ease out, so you have “negative ease”, which makes for the kind of close fit you can only get with knits, and we’ll talk about different kinds of knit fabrics and their properties.
i’ll also show you some of my favorite techniques for sewing knits, no serger required! we’ll cover neckline finishes, hems and seams with built-in stretch.
most of us wear knits all the time, so we shouldn’t be afraid to sew with them. once you see how much fun they are, the style options from your basic pattern are infinite!
it’s been quite a while since i released a new crochet pattern, but i’m pleased to share with you the Urchin Stripe Cowl. it’s a quick little number, perfect for the transition between summer and fall (in other words, NOW!); wear it with a cardi or hoodie to extend the season of your summer dresses and tops. i designed it as a way to practice the 4 basic stitches and where to put them at the beginnings and ends of rows, an aspect of crochet that beginners often find a bit confusing.
this little project is a collaboration with my pals at Kelbourne Woolens, purveyors of the lovely Fibre Company Canopy Fingering that i used to hook it up. the combo of fine, soft yarn and a bigger hook makes for a lightweight, drapy cowl that practically floats around your neck. you can read more about it over on their blog!
can you believe it’s SEPTEMBER? i for one cannot, but that doesn’t mean i’m not happy about it. to me, there’s no month more promising than September. it just feels like a new beginning. i may be inspired to make new clothes all year ’round, but this is the time of year when a new handmade wardrobe (or more accurately, taking stock, adding to and filling in the gaps of a handmade wardrobe, since they are to be developed over a lifetime and not something we discard or acquire every season) just feels essential.
to that end, i’m super happy to announce that my newest online workshop, Pattern Drafting with Knits, premieres on Creativebug next week! and look at all the fun company i’m in! it’s almost like a complete seminar on building a handmade wardrobe: Creating Color Palettes with Anna Maria Horner, Brush Painting on Fabric with Anna Joyce, Screen Printing with Hilary Williams, and more Sketchbook Explorations with Lisa Congdon!
if you’ve taken my original Pattern Drafting workshop (which mainly dealt with wovens) in the past, and are excited to jump into working with knits, you may want to review the first one this weekend, as you’ll need your basic shift + sleeve patterns for the new class. just wait until you see all the cute stuff you can make with knit fabrics, just by tweaking your pattern and learning some new techniques!
it’s not too late to join in on the Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge if you want to develop your wardrobe with an enthusiastic group of makers cheering you on! and you’re also invited to join my Pattern Drafting group on Facebook to share/discuss/ask questions about all things related to patternmaking and sewing clothes.
do you love podcasts as much as i do? i listen to them while i work, and also when i’m driving. i subscribe to lots of different kinds, but my favorites are those that interview makers. they keep me company while i’m sewing or cutting out dresses or crocheting, and it fascinates me to hear other creative people’s stories and practices.
back in June when i was at Squam, one of my cabin-mates was the lovely Helen of the Curious Handmade podcast. Helen designs exquisite knits, plans awesome events, and talks about running an independent creative business, and i’ve listened to every episode of her show, so i felt like we were already old friends, since she’s been hanging out with me in my studio for years! she knew at the time that she’d be doing a series on clothes-making, which has now evolved into the Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge, and she aired her interview with me on Friday to coincide with kicking off the challenge. this month is for plotting and scheming so i’m still coming up with how exactly i want to participate. believe it or not, my own handmade wardrobe has some holes to fill!
i wish we had a photo of us recording, because we both had our needlework in our laps as we giggled on the couch in the living room of our darling cabin, with a crackling fire (it was a slightly chilly, cloudy afternoon). the photo above will give you some idea of the mood, as it was taken in the same cozy room. but alas, no one was around to visually capture the happy hour or so we spent chatting. when i listened the other night, i was transported back to that wonderful moment. we laugh a lot, and talk about why i love crochet, how i began teaching at my little shop in NYC, tips for beginner sewing projects, why i don’t sell sewing patterns (yet), and lots more. i think you might enjoy grabbing a project and a drink and listening in, and you may even feel inspired to join in the fun of the Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge… it’s very flexible, and you can set your own goal, and it’s open to sewing, knitting, and even crochet!