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October 2008
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December 2008

November 2008



Imagine my surprise when, out my studio window, snow flurries were dancing about. I love snow.
Having grown up near the Tahoe ski resorts in California, I developed a healthy appreciation of all that the white stuff has to offer - including those candle-lit nights without power, an afternoon spent sledding, a warm mug of cider, and curling up in a blanket with a good book.

So what did I feel pulled to do, to celebrate my first snowfall in North Carolina? A hot chocolate? An afternoon knitting?


ice cream

A trip to my local Ben and Jerry's for a different kind of frozen.

Logical, right? I was the only one there. The service was fast.

The baby made me do it, okay?

for you!

ornament swap 2008 ready to mail

Okay - so the envelopes pictured here aren't technically for you ... unless you're in my ornament swap group. But no big deal, right? I promise to show you what's inside and put up a free ornament pattern once these start arriving in the hands of my swap partners.

Congratulations to Melissa, who won the magazine wallet giveaway!

And for the rest of you - here's a PDF tutorial with pattern templates so that you can make your own wallet! Make sure you print it off at 100% scale.



recycled magazine wallet giveaway

magazine wallets 1

For those of us whose pocketbooks can't handle buying holiday gifts at Anthropologie ... why not MAKE your pocketbook out of Anthropologie? (Magazines, that is.)

I've been having fun with beautiful magazines and my Xyron 900, sewing up a set of these recycled wallets for stocking stuffers. Honestly, it's more difficult photographing these darn wallets than actually making them! Laminated items don't do well in any light as far as a camera is concerned. Trust me - the finished product is much more charming than these photographs show.

magazine wallets 2

magazine wallets 3

The wallet has a change pocket, a place for credit cards and license, and a spot for bills.

magazine wallets 4

Edit: Comments are closed - the winner has already been selected!

And I'm giving one away! I couldn't resist giving a little something back after all of your kind words about my book deals and baby. Leave a comment and I'll mail you the Anthropologie embroidered pillow wallet! (Sorry, the purple shoe/cat wallet has already found its way into my purse somehow ...) Comments will remain open until Sunday evening, 9 p.m. Eastern. I'll use a random number generator to pick the winner, who will be announced right here on Monday morning.

Also on Monday, I'll put up an easy tutorial for making your own recycled magazine wallet, so that everyone can "win!"

Edit: Here's the PDF tutorial so you can make your own! Be sure to print it off at 100% scale. Enjoy!

Have a wonderful weekend,

i'm baking big time

15 weeks
15 weeks

Most of you already know about this bun in the oven.  What you might not know is that I have two other buns baking as well!

That's right ... with the contracts signed and everything official, I can finally spill the beans about what I've had up my sleeves these past few months.  I've signed a two book deal with Interweave Press! Here's a sneak peek:

book project peek

The first book, tentatively titled Sew Liberated: Creative Sewing with Applique, will feature 30 sewing projects embellished with applique. An entire section with photo tutorials will help you master all sorts of applique techniques, from an easy rough edge to more complex three dimensional appliques. It's due out in Fall 2009.

The second book, which doesn't yet have a title, will be a true melding of my passions - early childhood development and sewing. My plan is to offer clothing patterns for babies and young children that are designed with the child's developmental needs in mind: comfort, movement, and growing independence.

So now you know - if I have been slow in responding to emails and otherwise distracted, it's not necessarily because I have pregnancy brain ... I've been very busy behind the scenes! My first deadline is the second week of December, so I'm entering that CRAZY time. (At least the morning sickness is a thing of the past!)

Mostly, I'm still in shock that I'm going to be an author. Part of me feels so unworthy of the job. It really did fall into my lap through the kindness of others. I also feel incredibly lucky - and so fortunate - to have this opportunity. Not only is it a fulfillment of a personal dream, it will allow me to be a stay-at-home mama - my biggest wish of all. Life seems pretty charmed at the moment, what with baby, books, and my Bernina.

Thank you all for being such a warm and supportive community. I would never be writing these books if it weren't for you. Really. Thank you.

peaceful morning

peaceful breakfast

I took a moment this morning to enjoy some leftovers from dessert and game night with our new friends. The apple galette was to die for. And the teacup and saucer? Part of a set of five - a lucky thrifting find right up the road. This picture doesn't do them justice. They make me ridiculously happy. This is my first cup and saucer set. No more drinking from the "Congrats Graduate" mug that I've had since 8th grade. Goodbye and good riddance to all the ugliness that once tainted my tea. I feel like, once and for all, I have left that limbo of the post-college years. (This period was exceptionally long for me, due to the move to Mexico and all, with its accompanying pressure to keep all material possessions to a minimum.) My house is finally starting to feel like a home.

Now I just need a frame for my mattress so we can stop sleeping on the floor - and a dining table. I'm waiting for the perfect, pine farmhouse table to show up on one of my thrifting outings. Thumb twiddle. In the meantime, these teacups are the icing on the cake, even though the cake's not quite done.

Other things:

- Sign-ups for the Holiday Traditions Exchange are officially closed. Thanks for your enthusiastic response! I have a handful of partners left to email. Please email your partner to introduce yourself right away and keep your commitment to your partner. If, for some reason, you aren't able to get in contact with your partner, shoot me an email. I could have goofed and sent you the wrong address. In any case, once you have made contact, remember that it is incumbent on you to send out your package by December 13th. (Earlier if you have an international partner!)

- Thanks for the tips on fusing plastic bags. If you're interested in trying, check out the suggestions in the comments, and be sure to proceed in a well-ventilated area due to some concern of fumes. (Don't worry, I tried this before I got pregnant, and in a well-ventilated area!)

- Speaking of pregnancy, my little tenant is finally starting to make me look pregnant. At least I think so. The world might just assume that I'm waist-less. Ah well. I owe you a belly pic. And I owe myself a few pairs of maternity pants. Old Navy? Any other non-frump suggestions?

- Stay tuned for big news tomorrow!

plastic bag

recycled plastic bag

Introducing ... my fused plastic bag purse, purchased from a local artist a while back. I was totally taken by this technique and had my heart set on making a few of my own. I found the blogosphere has already provided several helpful tutorials: here and here.

But I just could not get my bags to fuse properly. I tried all sorts of settings on my iron, but it appears as though my iron and I don't have the best relationship. Have I been defeated by plastic bags and a temperamental iron? Is there any hope for me and my iron? Can we work it out?

Have any of you tried this technique before? Any tips?

Happy weekend,

the words of langston hughes

I, too

I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes.
But I laugh
And eat well
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me
“Eat in the Kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed -

I, too, am America.

"mama to mama" and haiti

Photo by Amanda of Soulemama, a new craftivism website launched by Soulemama, provides an easy way to connect crafters with communities in need.  From Mama to Mama:

There are so very many reasons why we craft. We craft out of necessity, we craft out of love, we craft for pleasure. And we craft, sometimes, to bring a little peace to our lives, to our hearts, and to our everyday moments. Taking that just a step further, we can - and do, like so many crafters before us - turn our crafting into peace for the world beyond our homes. The simple act of creating something with intention and heart - for someone in need, can have a beautiful effect on the lives of others. We can, indeed, do something to create a more just and peaceful world...all with the simple, mindful and crafty work of our hands.

Mama to Mama's first project, making the above jersey newborn caps for distribution in northern Haiti, is particularly dear to my heart. Patrick spent time in Haiti prior to the US-orchestrated coup in 2004 and came to know the grave, systemic injustices that pervade the country and its people. Haiti has a long history of being "punished" by the Western world for leading the first successful slave rebellion, thus becoming the second free nation in the Western hemisphere after the United States.  Haiti was required, at gunpoint, to pay France for its liberty in 1825. In inflation-adjusted terms, the amount would be about $21.7 billion, the cost of which crippled Haiti economically from the get-go. The Haitians have lived through a US occupation from 1915-1934, several cruel dictatorships installed and propped-up by imperial powers, and are currently suffering from an unprecedented ecological disaster - the Haitian landscape has been ravaged and is no longer capable of producing sufficient food for its people. Haitians rely on food aid from crop excesses in the US to survive. This summer, I was reading a NY Times article on the plight of the US corn crops during this very wet summer. The corn crop was estimated to be much, much lower. At the very end of a three-page article, the expert was quoted: "We'll have enough corn for our consumption in the US, but we won't be exporting. I don't want to think about how this will affect countries like Haiti."

He's not alone in not wanting to think about Haiti. Haiti is a HARD country to think about. It flies in the face of all that we were taught in school about Western civilization. In a way, it scares us - it scares us to see the results of centuries of racism and brutality played out like an insensitive board game. It's HARD to think that forces of humanity are capable of such evil. But I believe that it's important to reflect on the "why" and "how" of Haiti. It's important to learn from the past so that we can do whatever needs to be done to keep history from repeating itself. Moreover, it reminds us of how important it is to bring justice to the people of Haiti in the here and now. Here are several things you can do:

- Start by making some baby caps from old T-shirts and send them to Mama to Mama. We all need a place to begin, to use our talents, and to work mindfully with our hands to create something that fills a need. I love how this project allows you to think about the baby that will wear the cap, infusing it with love and good intentions.

- Watch this 60 Minutes clip about Paul Farmer and his organization, Partners in Health. If you want to watch more videos about Haiti in general, visit the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.

- Visit the Partners in Health website and consider getting involved in the Malaria Net Challenge. Also, consider cutting back on your holiday expenditures this year and donating the extra money to Partners in Health. Whenever Patrick and I can afford to donate, this is where our money goes - we know it's put to immediate use to save lives. We also make donations to the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. You might be interested in signing up for IJDH's action alert list or volunteering for them in some way.

- Read Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment by Peter Hallward.

- Read The Uses of Haiti by Paul Farmer.

- Read Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor by Paul Farmer. This book is a particularly good read if you are religious, as Farmer weaves in liberation theology theories from his Catholic background.

I thought I'd close with some Haitian proverbs.

Sa ou fe, se li ou we.
What you do is what you see.

Dye mon, gen mon.
Beyond the mountains, more mountains.

Craft with a cause!