10.31.2006

Boo!

halloween

I think Halloween is such a cool holiday and we had so much fun when we were kids. We'd carve pumpkins and have apple cider and powered sugar doughnuts (a yearly tradition) before going out to trick-or-treat. We lived in an apartment compex so this took hours. And we were required to stop home several times to unload our bags. This way, if it was a particularly busy night, my mother could raid our bags if she ran out of candy to distribute. We had candy to last until Christmas so it didn't really matter to us.

My favorite thing to dress as was a gypsy. I'd wear one of my mothers long cotton skirts with leggings underneath (it was always freezing on Halloween) and start piling things on top—gobs of necklaces and bracelets and dangly earrings, of course.

It was interesting to read about the origins of Halloween and how our modern customs evolved from the ancient celebration of Samhain, mostly imported here from Celtic countries like Ireland and Scotland.

Halloween or Samhaim (pronounced So-wen) falls on the pagan New Year and celebrates both endings and beginnings. The end of summer harvest and impending darkness after the light. The beginning of winter and the promise of new life in the spring. With this in mind, Samhaim was a religious time of fasting, reflection, meditation and prayer. It was also believed that the worlds of the living and the dead merged on this day. Many of our customs came about in order to maintain peace between these two worlds.

Costumes and masks were used for protection against spirits. Even after they converted to Christianity, people remained afraid of All Hallows Eve, the one day it was believed that spirits were allowed to freely walk the earth. In order to not be recognized by these spirits, people would leave their homes at night incognito in masks and misleading regalia.

In ancient Ireland the Druid priests of Muck Olla would go to farms begging for food and money for their houses of worship. If farmers didn't pay, their barns would be burned or their animals would disappear. These incidents were believed to have been caused by the god, "Muck" from which the word muck has come to mean trouble and chaos. Acts such as these evolved into the threat of 'tricks' (or pranks) if treats were not given.

In Ireland, it was said "Jack" was a mean drunkard who used to beat his wife. He played too many tricks on the devil to save his soul. When Jack died, he was too bad to get into Heaven and the devil was too annoyed with him to let him into Hell. The devil gave him a burning coal that he placed inside a partially-eaten turnip, called a bogie. From that day, Jack has wandered the earth with his turnip lantern looking for a place to rest his soul. Pumpkins eventually replaced the turnip and our tradition of the jack-o-lantern (Jack-of-the-Lantern) was born.

You can read more about this fascinating history here and here.

Whether you celebrate the ancient traditions of Samhain or the more modern Halloween, have a scary (but safe) holiday!

10.30.2006

Stitch School: French Knot

Stitch School has moved to it's very own blog and you'll find the French Knot post here.

10.29.2006

So excited

crafters_companion

My hot-off-the-press copy of The Crafter's Companion arrived yesterday! I had pre-ordered it as a birthday present to myself a few weeks ago and was eagerly awaiting it's appearance in my mailbox. And it's as wonderful as I knew it would be. Beautiful photos, fun projects, and lots of familiar names from the crafty blog community—Amy Karol (Angry Chicken), Heidi Kenney (My Paper Crane), Hillary Lang (Wee Wonderfuls) and Sarah Neuburger (The Small Object) to name just a few (there are 17 in all). I flipped though it quickly to look at the pictures - what can I say, I'm a visual person. But, I can't wait to sit down and read every word. I love to read about what inspires other artists, don't you?

Since everyone's been commenting to thank me for the links here's a list of the other 13 contributors:
Alison Brookbanks, Six and a Half Stitches
Anna Torborg, Twelve 22
Cassi Griffin, Bella Dia
Fiona Dalton, Hop Skip Jump
Juju Vail, Juju Loves Polkadots
Katey Nicosia, One Good Bumblebee
Lisa Congdon, Bird in the Hand
Lyn Roberts, Molly Chicken
Maitreya Dunham, Craftlog
Mariko Fujinaka, Super Eggplant
Myra Masuda, My Little Mochi
Tania Ho, Chocolate A Chuva
Tania Howells, Tania

10.27.2006

Studio Friday: Collections

This topic was hard for me. Not because I have no collections, but because I have too many. Which one to choose?

I hope this isn't cheating because I have these arranged on a dresser top just outside the door of my studio so technically not inside. But I get to look at them each time I pass through the hallway on my trips from my studio to the attic room where I store finished work and package orders. I've wanted to do a post about these little Chinese enamel dishes for a while, and will use this as the opportunity to do it.

enamel dish collection

I don't even know what they're called. They're very small so don't hold much and they're not flat enough to be coasters. Maybe they're for sauces or condiments? I have no idea how old they are. I do know that they were imported from China and have a distinctive handwritten signature on the back. They're made of enamel over metal (probably tin) so are not nearly as fragile as they look.

stamp

We started with a few square ones that my husband inherited when his parents downsized from their house to an apartment. Then we added a few round ones and lately some with more unusual shapes. This summer we found two larger, bowl-sized ones. The small ones cost just a couple of dollars so they're very affordable.

I love everything about them—their tiny size, the not-so-perfect hand-painted look, the jewel-like colors. Grouped together they're just so visually pleasing that I smile every time I walk past them. And isn't that what a collection should do?

enamel dishes

enamel dish

enamel dishes

enamel dish

See more wonderful collections here.

10.26.2006

Reading embroidery patterns

Someone commented on this week's embroidery post with a question about embroidery patterns—

"How do you tell which stitch to use when looking at a pattern? Do the patterns come with a guide?"

Great question. When you buy patterns in kit form—either modern or vintage—they'll probably have a guide that tells you which stitches and what colors to use. But with old patterns—like iron-on transfers or stamped-for-embroidery linens—you'll have to use a bit of intuition. At one time they did have instructions, and they probably were contained in a booklet that came along with the project. Here's what they looked like:

patternbook1

Inside are instructions for all the projects in that season's line, not just for the project you bought.

patternbook2

There are general directions for stitches within the book and color keys for each project.

patternbook3

It's not surprising that, after all this time, these booklets got separated from the projects they came with. I buy lots of unfinished stamped embroidery projects on Ebay and elsewhere and they rarely come with any information. When I do come across these booklets I grab them because you never know what will match a project you already have. But, I like to chose my own colors anyway, and it's really pretty simple to figure out the stitches. Ninety-nine percent of projects use just five basic stitches: straight, outline/stem, French knots, lazy daisy, and satin (all of which we've covered already except for French knots).

I'll show a couple of examples from some projects I haven't started yet. The first one is a vintage Vogart pillow top that the original owner started but never finished. She used outline stitch for the outline of the jacket, and that's what I'd suggest for any long unbroken lines, especially ones that curve. So, I'll also use this stitch for her shawl, the outline of her hair, around the outside edges of the bow, and the flowers.

Inside her hair you see a series of shorter straight lines—you can use straight stitch for these. And straight stitch will work for the straight lines inside the bow, too.

Tiny circles (like inside her shawl) calls for French knots. You start the stitch on one side of the circle and come down on the opposite side, trying to center it within the circle.

Notice that her eyes and lips have a series of closely-drawn straight lines and that's how patterns show satin stitch. You can go right over each line to get a loosely packed look or you can take another stitch in between to fill the shape in completely. The buttons on her jacket are probably supposed to be done in outline stitch as well, but I'm going to use real buttons instead.

patterns_1

To the left of the figure in the first picture we see a bunch of flowers and these will be done mostly with outline stitch. Again, this is best for unbroken curved lines. But now we see something new—the small loop shape. This means detached chain or lazy daisy and that's what's used most often for small leaves. For flower petals, you'll often see these shapes arranged in a ring around a central tiny circle (French knot).

patterns_2

From a vintage runner, we have this butterfly. There are tiny circles (French knots), short straight lines on the wings (straight stitch), a body with closely packed lines (satin stitch), and some curvy feelers (outline stitch). Use a French knot at the end of each feeler.

patterns_3

And it's really that simple. Mastering the basic stitches will allow you to complete just about any project you encounter. Later, you might try substituting back stitch, chain stitch, or whipped running stitch for the outline stitch. It will look a little different but they're all good alternatives for long lines.

A lot of modern patterns use cross stitch, and that's easy to spot. I haven't covered this stitch yet, but basically it's two straight stitches that cross in the middle. The only thing to remember when doing it is to keep your stitches running in the same direction. So, do a row of stitches first in one direction, then come back over the row in the opposite direction to do the crossover stitches. This way all your crosses will look exactly the same.

Hope that answered your question. Keep 'em coming :)

10.24.2006

Stitch School: Running Stitch

Stitch School has moved to it's very own space on the web! You'll now find the Running Stitch post here. Comments are now closed on this post; if you'd like to leave a comment please do so on the new one.

10.22.2006

What's for dinner?

I've just finished reading Laura Shapiro's book Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America. It was really interesting to read about how hard manufacturers pushed convenience foods and what a tough sell it was for consumers. No matter how busy women were they didn't seem to be that impressed with convenience foods. Cake mixes were pretty much a failure until they changed them so you had to add your own eggs. I think you had to feel like you were doing something.

I grew up in the 60s and my mother started working full-time when I was around ten. So, we ate our fair share of recipes clipped from women's magazines from that time. We always had the more-time consuming, harder-to-prepare dishes on the weekends, but we ate lots of casseroles during the week. Things like spam with baked beans, tuna noodle casserole, hamburger pie with mashed potatoes and cheese on top, salmon loaf with cream of celery soup (I couldn't manage more than a few bites of this one), and a crazy tuna mixture baked with tater tots arranged in rings on top. I don't think we ever ate this casserole, but it's a good example of the standard fare at the time.

spam

We didn't have a lot of money and she only cooked one dinner—if you didn't eat it, you went hungry. So you learned to like (or at least tolerate) what was put in front of you. But the beauty of growing up and becoming an adult is that you don't have to eat what you don't like any more. So, no more salmon loaf or Spam for me—lima beans either.

I'm not a big convenience food person simply because I try to avoid all those unpronounceable chemicals and prefer the taste of real food. So, except for the occasional craving I get for tuna noodle casserole, I rarely make any of my mom's casserole recipes. I do make several of her more traditional recipes, though. Like this one for meatloaf. If you want that salmon loaf recipe ((((shudder))))), you'll have to find it yourself. :)

Marion's Meatloaf

2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup grated onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
2/3 cup dry bread crumbs
1.5 to 2 pounds ground beef or a combination of beef, pork, and veal
ketchup

Beat eggs with the milk. Add grated onion, salt, pepper, and sage. Add the breadcrumbs and soak for a few minutes until they absorb the liquid. Mix in the ground meat and pack into a loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1.5 to 2 hours. spreading ketchup over the top before the last half hour of cooking.

We always had this with mashed potatoes and green beans. I've made it with other accompaniments but they just don't feel right. And it makes wonderful sandwiches the next day.

10.21.2006

Ask me anything

I was having a discussion the other day with some online friends about interviews. How so many blogs do them but ask the same questions over and over. I'd like to do interviews, too, because I have some great friends who make wonderful products that you might like to hear about. But, I'd like to ask better questions, or tougher questions—something to shake things up a little. I still haven't come up with those questions and I'm open to suggestions. So, what would you like to read about if you could ask anything?

In our discussion one friend challenged me with a list of questions. I was asking in a more general way, but OK, I'll answer them because they're good subjects for discussion. This first one deserves it's own post so I'll save the others for another time.

Do you ever feel bad cutting up vintage linens?

Very simply, no. And here's why. I don't cut up anything that's perfect. In fact, I don't even buy things that are perfect unless I'm buying them for my own use. What you don't see in my finished work are all the flaws in the original materials—the yellow spots that don't wash out, the spattering of rust spots on the pillowcase back, the torn crochet trim, the badly-done embroidery that has to be taken out and redone or repaired, the holes and weak spots.

Here's an example. The hungry puppy pillow I posted a picture of recently was made from a stamped-for-embroidery towel. Just to the left of the puppy motif was a large brown stain that I wasn't sure would wash out. And with stamped embroidery you can't wash it until it's finished because you'll wash away the design. I took a leap of faith, did the embroidery, washed it, and the stain faded but was still there. So, I cut out the center and made it into a pillow. Had the stain come out I probably would have finished it (and sold it) as a finished towel.

This topic is actually very timely because I recently bought an embroidered baby pillowcase on Ebay. And the seller wrote to ask me how I was going to use it—was I going to cut it up or resell it or what? I wrote back to say that it all depended on the condition of the item. If it was perfect I might just copy the embroidery pattern and resell the pillowcase on my site. If it wasn't, then I'd use it in one of my creations. I received it a few days later, and what she neglected to say in the item description was that the hem was cut off. So, short of hemming it again (and there really wasn't enough fabric to do this) or adding a crochet edge (possible, but more trouble than it was worth), I really had no choice but to use it.

Do I sometimes buy things that are right on the line—not perfect, but not bad enough to cut up either? Sure. And they're stored in a box. I take them out once in a while, thinking I'll use them, but once I get the scissors in hand, I can't do it. Here are a couple of examples—

grapes

A section of a vintage tablecloth appliqued with fruits. There's a smallish yellow stain near the edge but the applique is so extraordinary that I can't cut it.

pull_toy

And this embroidery from a vintage baby coverlet that has a weak area/ragged hole along the edge. The embroidery is exquisitely-done and I can't cut this one either.

There are really two camps on this subject. Some people are horrified that anyone would cut up something that has both historical value, and that someone spent so much time creating—that it should be used as it was originally intended. The other camp feels that these pieces were created to be used, and that they should be. Let's face it, most people don't use doilies and table runners and lace tablecloths (much too fussy for our modern lives). So you could buy things and tuck them away for special occasions that may or may not come along. Or. you can recycle them into an item that you actually can use—a bag, a pillow, an article of clothing.

So, while I have great respect for the time and skill that went into these linens, and their historical value, I don't have a problem remaking them into something else. I think it's better to use a small good section of a piece than to throw the whole thing out because of a stain. However, I'm not going to cut up something gorgeous just because I need materials to work with. There are plenty of perfectly good slightly-damaged things out there—and they're much cheaper, too.

So, as I mentioned earlier, I'm looking for ideas for questions. But, if you have questions you'd like me to answer, send them along. It's sometimes difficult to come up with subjects to blog about, so really, I don't mind. If it's too personal, I'll let you know :)

10.20.2006

Studio Friday: Autumn Inspiration

"Autumn inspiration - According to my calendar, today (Sept 22) is the "Autumnal Equinox," and it's my favorite season, so show me what you love about the fall - the colors?... the leaves?...etc."
~ Kerri


In pagan religions the year is seen as a wheel that symbolizes the eternal cycle of life. Autumn is the time for harvesting what we've sown, for reflecting on our place in that cycle, and for honoring those who have gone on before us. All around us things are dying, transitioning into winter, and preparing to be reborn next spring.

I love that, amongst the decay, there are these last gasps of color—the "look-at-me" yellow-golds, fiery oranges, and shocking reds. Especially those reds.

red leaf

red berries

So, autumn, for me, is largely about color. Lucky for me that I live in a part of the country known for it's spectacular examples. I also love the crisp air as it gets colder outside and the smell of wood smoke and apples. I love the process of preparing for winter and how cozy my house in the country will be when the snow starts to fly. And I will take time to reflect on the past year (business and otherwise) and make plans for the new year to come. It never hurts to get an early start. I think I see some red pillows coming up :)

More autumn inspiration here.

10.19.2006

Well, it's over

Season 3 of Project Runway, that is. Congratulations to Jeffrey Sebelia, who I'll admit is a creative and innovative designer but whose clothing is just not to my taste. And who already has a clothing line and company! So, yes, I'm in the "Uli was robbed camp". Oh, well, nobody cares what I think, fashionista that I am- LOL! All of the top four designers will do well, including Uli, and it will be interesting to see where they all are a year from now.

I've been finishing up an order of sachets for a gallery in Virginia, and a batch of tissue cozies for a trade with another artist, so I've been avoiding the computer the past few days. I am working on a few new posts, so I'll be back tomorrow. And what's a post without pictures, so here is one of the new sachets. I'm using brighter colors underneath the eyelet on these, so you see little hints of color peeking out. I still have shops that like the all-white ones, but I think I like these better.

lavender sachet

10.17.2006

Pillow Talk

The new pillows I mentioned last week have been added to the site. Knittin' Kitten features one of those 1950s stamped-for-embroidery quilt blocks I got on Ebay this summer. I embroidered it in colors to match the yellow fabric, which I recycled from a vintage apron. I love the little gray kitties with their bright green balls of yarn and mittens on strings. And the cool flower vintage buttons match the green exactly.

Knittin' Kitten

And Hungry Puppy features a stamped-for-embroidery towel that I bought this summer, then paired with some vintage fabrics and a vintage blue swirly button. I can't decide if this is a puppy or a bear cub—I've changed my mind too many times. What do you guys think? Maybe it's really Baby Bear from Goldilocks? I can always change the name.

Hungry Puppy

And, this is the first time I've done this, but I've just marked down a bunch of pillows to wholesale prices (that's 50% off!) I'm running out of storage space and need to move out some of the older designs. So get over there and do some early holiday shopping. Or get that pillow you've had your eye on for a while.

10.14.2006

Sewing is everywhere

A nice article about the new popularity of sewing originally published in the Baltimore Sun last week—

Younger hands taking up needle and thread
by John Tanasychuk

Until four years ago, Kerry Szymanski had never spent a minute at a sewing machine.

But in 2002 she decided the best way to meet people was to take a class. "I started taking sewing lessons," said Szymanski, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., "and fell in love with it."

So much so that she now owns Sassy BB, where her MBA and marketing background meet her newfound sewing skills. Along with sewing the purses that her customers design, Szymanski, 37, gives lessons to a generation of women - and men - discovering the joys of bobbins and seam allowances.

Blame Project Runway, the hit Bravo reality show that airs at 10 p.m. Wednesdays. It has done for sewing what Sex and the City did for ... well ... single women living in Manhattan. Project Runway turns cutting, draping and transforming fabric behind a Consew industrial sewing machine into high drama.

Other signs that sewing is everywhere:

• In Style magazine recently showed readers how to transform last season's styles into this season's. (Prairie skirt to bubble skirt, anyone?) Real Simple magazine featured a four-page spread on sewing basics.

• New how-to books make sewing sound hip. Consider Sew Subversive (Taunton, $14.95), which teaches you how to turn a T-shirt into a tote bag, or In Stitches (Chronicle, $24.95), which includes instructions for a fabric tunnel for your cat.

• Teen and tween sewers are led by Emily Osment, the 14-year-old actress who plays Lilly on Disney Channel's Hannah Montana, who specializes in halter tops.

• Those ubiquitous home-decorating shows might not show the Singers, but the new pillows didn't get done without a sewing machine. Call it aspirational sewing.

Todays' sewers are motivated more by fashion and individuality, and less by practicality and economy.

The national Home Sewing Association reports today's 35 million sewing enthusiasts are "embellishing" and "adapting."

"It's not like we're making clothes from scratch," said Allison Whitlock, the thirtysomething host of Uncommon Threads, a daily show on DIY Network. "What girls and guys are doing is going to vintage stores and buying that shirt where the collar is a little too big or the fit isn't quite right. And then we're reconstructing them and adding our own flair to them, updating the style."

At Calico Corners home fabric store in Boca Raton, Fla., the average customer age gets younger every year.

"I think it's because of the exposure and interest generated by HGTV and the Internet," said Claudette Bublak, a Calico Corners employee for 33 years.

10.13.2006

Studio Friday: Fear

I wouldn’t say that I’m filled with fear. I’ve survived cancer and there’s nothing quite as scary (and humbling) as that. Everyday fears seem rather small in comparison.

But I do have doubts and worries—we all do. I had to laugh about the timing of this topic, because I posted last week on my more personal Live Journal blog about waking up one morning freaking out about retirement. You see, I used to have a high-paying job with all the benefits that came along with it. All the stress, too. Mostly I'm fine with my decision to leave, but every once in a while I get a bit panicked about the future. When you work for yourself, there are practical concerns having to do with health insurance and taxes and retirement accounts that you don’t really think about with a regular corporate job.

And, as Casey said, you also don’t have the parameters that come with a job. There’s no one giving you performance reviews to keep you on track. Sometimes the only feedback you get are comments from customers and blog readers. So, you worry about whether people like your work, and like it enough to buy it.

When I first started my blog I worried that nobody was reading it. It felt like I spent so much time on it and it just disappeared into a black hole somewhere. So, a big thank you to my readers who comment and let me know you're really out there :)

What else? I worry that I won’t get orders, and then I worry that I’ll get too many and not be able to handle the extra work. I worry about running out of ideas or getting stale. And I worry that I won’t have enough time to implement all the ideas I do have.

These kinds of worries are OK, I think, because they help us to stay focused on what we're doing. We have some degree of control over them. It's the worries that are out of our control that are harder. I worry about the direction our country seems to be headed in and the willingness of people to give up the freedoms our ancestors fought so hard to secure. I don't know what to do about that. I think I'd be even more afraid if I had children.

Oh, and I'm really afraid of spiders, too.

Read more about fear here.

10.11.2006

Shop update

Just a quick update on some new additions to the shop. Lots of buttons, including a card of beautiful vintage red and gold Schwanda buttons and some brightly-colored not-quite-vintage ones.

vintage buttons

And a super-cute vintage handknit baby sweater in an aqua/mint green color with tiny pearl buttons. It's so perfect I doubt it was ever worn.



For more info click on the pictures.

I've also finished a couple of pillows that I'll be adding in the next few days - just have to photograph them.

10.08.2006

There's a little farm girl in all of us

I've been seeing a new magazine on the newstand the past couple of months but didn't pick one up until yesterday. Really, could you resist a cover line that says "Special Stitchery Issue"? I couldn't.

mjf_mag

The magazine is called Mary Janes Farm and is part catalog for the company's organic food and related products and part magazine. And it has no advertising (except for their own products), which is pretty unusual in the magazine world.

This issue has lots of articles about stitching—mostly about aprons. And there are instructions and patterns for five aprons—a hankie pocket apron, a hankie apron, one with faux smocking, and a make-do apron recycled from a shirt. The fifth is a super cute Little Red Riding Hood 3-in-1 topsy-turvy doll. If you flip back Little Red Riding Hood's skirt, you'll find Grandma underneath and when you flip up Grandmas' bonnet you'll find the wolf hiding inside wearing her apron. How cool is that?

mjf_wolf

They have ten more apron patterns for sale, both through an order form at the back of the magazine and on their website product page. They also sell a few embroidery kits, one for dishtowels with veggies that looks pretty cool.

I haven't had the chance yet to really sit down with this and read the articles but wanted to mention the magazine so you can go out and find one if you're interested. I have a feeling this one will be flying off the shelves!

Photos copyright 2006 by MaryJanesFarm

10.06.2006

Studio Friday: Stick it to the...Board!

"It would be interesting to see the variety of bulletin/memory boards in our studios. What is pinned to them? Photos? Notes? Reminders? Ideas for future projects?" ~Jill

Love this topic! What we put on our bulletin boards are the things that inspire us, memorialize past events in our lives, and make us happy just to look at. At least that's true of mine.

bulletin board 1

Some things on my board:

A handkerchief angel made by my friend Mary and given to me at a time when I really needed someone to watch over me.

Postcards featuring the work of one of my favorite jewelry/bead artists, Helen Baines, who I once had the pleasure of meeting at her studio space at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, VA.

Some ethnic silver jewelry and a strand of green glass hippie beads (no fooling - from 1972!) purchased on a school trip with my Spanish class to Greenwich Village. We ate paella at a Spanish restaurant and visited a head shop - LOL!

bulletin board 3

Three cards of black buttons that I bought months ago to replace the ugly ones on a sweater I bought. I'll get to it some day. I swear.

A felt gift bag shaped like a ladybug - how cool is that?

A portrait of Georgia O'Keeffe, another favorite artist.

A bunch of fun ball-shaped push pins in bright colors from Target.

A Japanese origami paper crane.

A millinery rose.

An embroidered and beaded purse I bought at Leekan Designs in NYC a couple of years ago. And a red and gold Chinese tea packet that was much too pretty to throw away.

bulletin board 2

A carved and painted wooden cat from Oaxaca, Mexico.

An Anthropologie fabric-covered picture frame. Cute idea but I think I can do a better one :)

Some patterns for a future patchwork pillow and dancing vegetables that I use for embroidering tea towels.

My favorite quote, clipped from a magazine.

bulletin board 4

The cool thing about bulletin boards is how fluid they are. Tomorrow, next week, or next month mine will look very different as I add new things and get rid of the old ones.

More inspiration here.

10.05.2006

Thrift Thursday 10.5

A week ago Sunday we drove down to Shupp's Grove flea market again for what will probably be our last trip of the year. They close down for the season later this month and it's already getting quite chilly most mornings. Chilly as in maybe I'd rather stay in bed. Besides, I did so well with flea marketing this summer that I'm pretty well stocked with materials to last me through the winter. I don't really need to be shopping for more stuff.

So I found more vintage eyelet, a pretty feedsack, four mint-condition bib aprons for $3 each, and lots of buttons (for 25 cents a card!!!)

vintage buttons

We also stopped at a relatively new antique mall called The Mad Hatter (Route 272 and 61 Willow Street, Adamstown, PA). The front part is set up with glass cases filled with beautifully-arranged antiques and vintage things—I mostly remember how sparkly and glittery the jewelry looked. Towards the back are rows of individual booths and I found some cool things—a pair of crochet baby booties ($1.50)...

vintage crochet booties

a bag full of vintage rickrack ($6), and this funny towel with ducks ($5). That's a bit more than I'd normally spend for a tea towel but the pattern is so cute. Or maybe cute isn't the right word—what is that little duck doing with such a big knife?

vintage embroidered towel

I keep thinking of that line from one of the Crocodile Dundee movies where they're accosted by punks with a knife—"That's not a knife. This is a knife."—as Paul Hogan whips out what is indeed a very large knife :)

10.04.2006

A walk in the park

Some friends from Tennessee visited us last week and we went for a walk at Lackawanna State Park on Friday afternoon. It felt funny to leave the house with heavy sweaters on but we were glad to have them when the wind picked up across the lake. Brrr! But the sun was warm and the leaves glowed red and gold in the sunlight. Surprisingly this year, not all of them are turning colors—some are dropping straight from the trees before changing. We love our autumn colors here so that's disappointing.

autumn

There was a flock of Canadian geese on the lake and two blue herons fishing along the edge. They were skittish and flew away as I approached so I couldn't get a good photo. And I tried to be as quiet as I could, too. Oh, well.

geese

There's no point whatsoever to this post except to show some pretty autumn pictures. So enjoy!

10.03.2006

Barkcloth

I think I mentioned once that people contact me occasionally asking if I buy vintage stuff—fabric or buttons or whatever. I bought lots of vintage fabric this summer from a guy in Wisconsin and you'll find some of it for sale now on my website. You probably wonder how I can bear to part with it but there was so much that I could keep yards of each design for myself and still have leftovers to sell.

I don't know if any of you are interested in barkcloth but he recently sent two designs to me hoping that I could sell them for him. And these pieces are the real deal—one is mint condition never used and the other has been made into curtains which are a bit dusty and could use a good cleaning. Tons of fabric to work with. Both are 1940s-50s.

These will go up on my site soon but if you want either of them before then email me and we'll work out details.

barkcloth

47" wide x 3 yards mint-condition gray background with browns, greens, pinks, and black. Selvedge edge says PATTERN NORTHCLIFF - GUARANTEED TO BE VAT PRINTS - PRE-SHRUNK. Selling for $45 (plus shipping)

barkcloth curtains

Two curtain panels in a gorgeous leaf design with green and maroon on light grey. 39" wide (with 1.5" hems on each side) x 87" long (plus 3" deep header and 1.5" hem). They do need to be cleaned but the only real flaw I can find is a 10" long section cut out from the hem of one curtain. Not sure why someone would have done this. You can't see it from the front but, if you wanted to use them as curtains and it bothers you, you could shorten them by a few inches and no one would ever know. If you're going to cut them up, say for pillows or bags, this won't be an issue. Selling for $50 (plus shipping). If I had a room with a single window in my house, I'd be keeping these babies!

Update: The leaf design curtains have been sold!