12.30.2010

winding down

I don't know where this holiday season went - or this entire year for that matter - I just know that it happened much too quickly. We spent a quiet Christmas at home, much needed after the last minute rush of orders and post office runs, gift wrapping, tree decorating, and cookie baking. We're going out to dinner with friends tonight with drinks and gift exchange at our house beforehand. A nice way to finish out the year. We stopped going out on New Year's Eve years ago—honestly I'd rather sleep :)

It was a bit slow this year for Primrose Design and holiday orders were off a bit - I'm sure due to the economy. But I did pick up a few wholesale accounts this past year and hope to continue with that in the coming year. I got two catalog requests for shops in Mississippi and Texas this week so that gives me hope! And the shops where I sell now continue to be good venues for me.

I'll be working on cutting expenses, too, and switching web hosts will be part of that. I'm not looking forward to moving all the files (800-something at last count) but I can save a lot by doing it. The site will likely be kind of wonky while the switch is happening but I'll let you know ahead of time.

And I'll be moving some of my vintage things over to my Etsy shop to try for a wider audience. And unloading some things I've bought but don't plan to use. Part of my cleaning-up-the-studio efforts, which I'm also working on this week.

Since I haven't posted for two weeks I never said happy holidays (I never got to the Christmas cards either) so I'll send you best wishes now for the coming year. Happy New Year!

11.15.2010

it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Inspired Ideas - The Christmas Issue
The Christmas issue of Amy Powers' Inspired Ideas is out and you can view it here. There's a Primrose Design project for an embellished holiday apron on pages 144-147. Once again, I'm honored to be included among such illustrious crafters as Charlotte Lyons, Jenny B. Harris, and Mary Engelbreit! It truly is a gorgeous magazine and I was thrilled to be asked to contribute!

11.04.2010

luck

Last Saturday we drove about 2 hours to an antique mall, one we've been to before with mixed results. As you know, hunting for vintage treasure is one part hard work and another part luck. No amount of hunting will turn up something that isn't there. But, this time, I got lucky!

When I first spotted the two bags of fabric scraps I thought "1940s". I didn't even examine them that carefully—they looked good, the price was right, and into my basket they went. It wasn't until I got home later that evening and took them out of the bags that I realized I was off by about a decade. They're 1930s for sure. There's something about the designs from this era that I love. The florals, which can sometimes be too sweet in other time periods, usually have something geometric to jazz them up.

Like yellow roses with little black rectangles and dots—

1930s cotton print

Or this orange floral with big yellow diamonds in the background—

1930s cotton print

The woman who saved these scraps had such similar tastes as myself that I love everything in these scrap bags! I wish I could show them all to you, but I'll limit myself to the very best ones. Most of these examples are fairly small scraps but there are some that are quite large—plenty of fabric to work with!

1930s cotton print
Love the colors on this one!

1930s cotton print
If I had yards and yards of this I could make all my fruit pot holders with this fabric on the back!

1930s cotton print
Diamonds

1930s cotton print
Navy blue floral

She really liked oranges, yellows, blues, and reds. One bag had lots of blue fabrics; the other was more orange and yellow. I wonder if there were more bags of different colors that someone grabbed before I got there!

10.04.2010

weekend away

I spent Friday night and most of Saturday traveling around the Phoenixville and Skippack areas of southeastern Pennsylvania. Friday night just happened to be Phoenixville's First Friday event but was also their yearly Octoberfest so all the shops were open late, the restaurants were full, the bars were hopping. Not quite my kind of scene but that's OK—it was fun. We ate dinner at a newish bistro whose menu sounded good but was a bit disappointing in person. The better meal was breakfast the next morning at Irish Joe's Cafe, an old-fashioned diner/lunch counter type place with the very best pancakes I've ever had. Orange-cranberry-pecan and the size of small plates—two of them. This was a special but the menu features an oatmeal-raisin version that I'm sure are just as good. As for shops, Hipster Home was fun and I got a pretty striped scarf and some woven-together-button napkin rings on sale there. You know how I love things made from buttons! If you love jewelry and unusual gifts, be sure to check out Diving Cat Studio and Gallery.

napkin ring
Hipster Home button napkin rings

bird
Straw, twig, and leaf bird from Diving Cat Studio

After our pancake breakfast on Saturday we headed north to Skippack. We arrived to find ourselves in the middle of Skippack Days, a town-wide festival and craft show. Along with the many shops that line the main street, there were hundreds of craft and food booths in every available space. I have to say that, after a while, most of the crafts started looking the same to me. Everyone seemed to be doing the same beaded jewelry, baby burp cloths, primitive bird houses, tie-dyed t-shirts (surely these aren't back in style again?). The booths that really stood out, and the ones I actually went into, were the ones that offered a unique twist on the usual fare. I wish there had been more of them. My one purchase of the day (besides a replacement for my 9 inch cake pan at the cookware store) was a gorgeous crocheted silver wire and pearl bracelet made by Jayne Stilley of Jeanne de Jeanne. I'm partial to pearls and silver but all of her work, especially her necklaces, was just stunning.

bracelet
Jeanne de Jeanne crocheted silver wire and pearl bracelet

We had a wonderful lunch on the patio at Brasserie 73, very French cafe. Grilled chicken with sliced Granny Smith apples, field greens, and toasted walnut mayo on a baguette. So yummy. Will definitely be back for dinner - hopefully we can snag one of the tables near the fireplace!

9.16.2010

inspired indeed

inspiredideas I'd like to direct you to a new online publication called Amy Powers' Inspired Ideas—it's truly gorgeous. You may know Amy already from her Inspire Co. blog and you'll probably recognize many, if not all, of the contributors. I didn't actually contribute a project but I did donate one of my embroidery patterns for use in Piper Wise's article about adding color to embroidery (page 26-28). And I have an ad on page 22, which you'll want to see if you're thinking of ordering embroidery patterns anytime soon (hint—there's a buy one get one free offer)!

You'll also find projects for rick rack flowers, embroidered blocks, pom pom sheep (so cute), and a kitty cat treat bag for Halloween, to name just a few.

So, head on over and show your support for Amy's new project. I promise you're going to love it!

9.11.2010

meet bella

Bella

A few days after we said goodbye to Little Bear another cat appeared at our door. It seems that our area is a prime dumping ground for unwanted cats. It's not too far from the city and it looks more country than it actually is. And everyone knows that cats can fend for themselves in the wild, right? Even ones who've been fixed and declawed and have never hunted a day in their lives. Don't get me started :)

Anyway, being all set up with food and water dishes and bags of food, I started feeding her. Look at that face—how could I not? But she wasn't eating much and seemed kind of sick - maybe a respiratory infection? I took her to our vet, not only to check that out but to see how old she was. Well, she's five or six months old and did have an infection. Which antibiotics cleared up just fine.

Obviously, she can't come inside with my two indoor cats, but we'll set up the winter shelter we made for Little Bear and see what happens. If we have a really bad winter I can move her into the garage.

We've named her Bella because of her tiny vampire-like bottom teeth. Unfortunately, you can't see them in the picture here. Bella, like Bela Lugosi with a nod to Kristin Stewart's Twilight character Bella. And she's crazy with kitten energy so very rarely sits still long to take her picture. I only got this one because she just woke up from a nap. Five seconds later she was careening (that's really the only word that fits) across the patio to chase some birds. Unfortunately, she's gotten quite good at catching them. And I'm not too happy about that. Still, she's a cat and that's what cats do.

9.07.2010

summer in a jar

I had plans to do some sewing today - there's a pile of tissue cozies and mini wallets on my work table that really need to get finished. But, it seems that I never got out of the kitchen. Although our vegetable garden is winding down we're still on overload with tomatoes and beets. Really, I got sick of looking at them all piled up on the counters and table. So, the beets got roasted in the oven, sliced, and topped with an orange sauce. Then bagged up for the freezer.

home canned salsa

And the tomatoes got turned into homemade salsa. This is the first time I tried salsa but it couldn't be easier. I used the Salsa Verde recipe on the Ball canning website and substituted red for green tomatoes. Ball makes salsa seasoning mixes, too, but I had a bunch of hot peppers here and I wanted to have some control over the taste (we like it spicy with lots of cilantro).

So, I peeled and seeded tomatoes, chopped red onions, and serrano and jalapeno peppers. Squeezed limes, chopped cilantro. Washed canning jars. Found the canning pot in the basement. Waited for the water to boil (I know better than to watch it). And finally got five jars of salsa cooling on my counter. And I'm happy to report that the lids popped so I'm positive they sealed. Yeah, canning is a lot of work. When I said the recipe was easy, I meant it, but the canning part takes some effort. Luckily, I have the supplies on hand since I've done a lot of canning in the past.

Can't wait to open these up in the middle of winter for a little taste of summer!

8.10.2010

thanks

Thanks for all your kind words about Little Bear. It hasn't quite sunk in that she's gone because I still look for her, then remember that I'm not going to find her. She had a habit of taking off for periods of time - a few days sometimes - we said she'd gone walkabout.

Last weekend's show went OK - not great, but I did sell some things. It was really more of a church bazaar with one tent of crafts and the person in charge told me afterward that people just weren't buying. That tells me I should probably skip the local show I did last year - the one where I barely made back my booth fee. Maybe things will pick up as we get closer to the holidays - it's still early (said with fingers crossed).

I'm still taking my class on Wednesdays - two more sessions to go!

Other than that I'm working on a new batch of pillows, and more hanky sachets, and then I have a custom order for three handkerchief pillows to get started on. I love doing custom orders! Will post pictures soon.

8.06.2010

rest in peace

little bear

I've mentioned at least once over the past year and a half that we've been feeding a stray cat. I named her Little Bear because we do have black bears here, and she looked like a miniature version of one. My husband called her Waddles because she did get kind of fat after a while. What was I going to do—let her starve?

She showed up one day last spring and decided to stay. I patiently picked ticks out of her coat and we nursed her through a bad bite that got infected. For the winter we made her a shelter because we couldn't let her inside the house. Let's just say that my two cats don't take kindly to strangers. We did the best we could for her.

She died last night and we found her along the side of the road this morning. She was always so good about crossing the road—I don't know what happened this time. Trucks and cars fly along our road, even though it's posted at 40 mph—I'm sure it was someone going too fast.

So rest in peace, Little Bear. I'm going to miss your funny face looking in the window at me every morning while you patiently waited to be fed.

7.31.2010

catching up

I'm participating in the 18th Annual Our Lady of Snows/Church of St. Benedict Country Bazaar next weekend and I've been sewing, organizing, and tagging items like crazy. I'll drop off my things on Thursday afternoon and the show will take place on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings from 6 to 11pm. It's located on the grounds of St. Benedict's outside of Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, in case you're close enough to check it out. It's a group booth and I may not actually be there during the show, although I did offer to fill in if they run short of helpers. I'm thinking of doing another show next month as well - will let you know about that as we get closer.

And, in an effort to update my computer skills a bit, I'm taking a class in InDesign at the University of Scranton for four Wednesdays in a row. You'll only have heard of this program if you work in design or publishing—it's pretty much for creating publications and advertising. I've always used QuarkXPress but InDesign is the current thing and I need to know how to use it for freelance work and possibly full-time work in the future. I forgot how tiring it is to sit in a classroom for seven hours. And, there are only two students so half the questions the teacher throws out are directed to me :)

Our vegetable garden has been producing like crazy, too. I've eaten so many green beans in the past two weeks that I'm starting to feel a little green myself. I can highly recommend this salad recipe if you're experiencing a green bean surplus—it calls for three pounds of them (but you can cut it in half or quarters). Next up will be beets and corn so I'd better get out the cookbooks again!

7.12.2010

flea market finds - buttons

Last but not least are vintage buttons! I wasn't necessarily looking for buttons on this trip because I have so many already but I couldn't turn down a bargain. And many of these are the 7/8" and 1" sizes that I use for tissue cozies. I don't know why that size is so hard to find or maybe it's just that I use so many :)

vintage buttons

pierced flower buttons
I love this Ultra Kraft pierced flower design!

buttons
And these Lansing double scalloped-edge flowers!

buttons
And these unusual beige shank buttons with a triple pebbled design on the top.

My next big trip will be to the Madison-Bouckville antique show in upstate New York in August but I hope to do some scouting locally in the meantime. I'm still hunting for vintage white eyelet for my sachets.

7.11.2010

flea market finds - quilt stuff

Today I have a bunch of quilt-related things. I found a bag of these diamond-shaped quilt blocks and I'm not sure how I'll use them—as they were intended or for the fabric. I love the center bottom one and wish I had yards and yards of it!

quilt diamonds

I also found a bag of larger square blocks (about 4 inches) that were mostly three colorways of the same plaid. I think I like the red-pink-beige one best but they're all pretty.

red-blue-beige-pink colorway

yellow-blue-orange colorway

yellow-orange-brown colorway

And finally there are two Grandmother's Quilt Patterns from Daily News - New York's Picture Newspaper. Pilot Wheel and Garland of Leaves designs. No date on these but definitely older.

quilt pattern

quilt pattern

They're printed as a folder and there are several other patterns (one sheet each) tucked inside. Cool idea for packaging them.

Last up, probably tomorrow, are some of the buttons I found. Hope you all have a great Sunday! It's much cooler here today but I swore I wouldn't complain about it. I might even get some gardening in later this morning.

7.09.2010

flea market finds - fabric

I've been using more vintage fabric lately - some shops request only that - so one of the things on my list this past weekend was fabric. And I found some pretty ones, including a batch of already-cut quilt blocks that I'll show in another post.

vintage fabric: burgundy floral
This burgundy floral has the appearance of feedsack but is actually yardage — almost 6 yards worth!

vintage fabric: blue ovals
I love the print on this. From a distance it looked like little dragonflies but is actually a pattern of blue ovals and black atomic-looking things on a white background. It's a smallish piece, less than a yard.

vintage fabric: teacups and plates
And finally we have a soft cotton with little blue, navy, and red pieces of china—teacups, saucers, plates, and pitchers. Someone had made this into a tea towel with blue bound edges; that half fell off in the wash so I removed it and will use this for the fabric.

Still need to scan the quilt blocks so I'll show you those next. Hint: there are three colorways of the same plaid fabric and a bunch of 1930s-40s prints!

7.08.2010

flea market finds - pillowcases

Still hot but I'm tired of whining about it. We're closing up the house during the day to keep the cool inside, and eating cold suppers on the porch late after the sun has gone down. It gets cool enough to sleep at night, thank god.

I thought I'd start showing some of my flea market finds from last weekend - that's what you're really here for :)

First up are pillowcases...

pillowcases

This is a pair of heavy cotton (tag says utility muslin) pillowcases with white and deep aqua crochet edging. Notice that it's the exact color of my bedroom walls, so I'm keeping these. In fact, they're on my bed right now. I don't know what it is about vintage sheets and pillowcases but they just feel crisper and I seem to be sleeping better since I put them on. OK, maybe I'm imagining that. I got these for an unbelievable $6 - for the pair!

And then I found a mint condition baby pillowcase with the original tag still attached. This is from Madeira, an island off the coast of Africa that is actually part of Portugal and they're well-known for their embroidery artisans. Check out this site for some examples - gorgeous work! Nice heavy cotton again, with blue embroidered scalloped bottom edge and sweet little appliqued and embroidered pink and blue lambs.

baby pillowcase

applique

Tomorrow I'll show some of the cool fabrics I found!

7.06.2010

hot hot hot

You know when it's so hot that the thought of eating anything makes you feel a bit nauseous? That's what it's been like here the past few days. In the 90s with not a hint of movement in the air. It's going to be like this for the rest of the week but with high humidity, too. Great (said with sarcasm).

Our house does not have air-conditioning and that's usually OK. It didn't used to get this hot in the summer except maybe for a week or so in August. And the house is perfectly designed for air circulation—every window has it's opposite in a direct line across the house—front to back and side to side. If we open the windows at night the cool air flows through the house; then we close them up after the sun fully rises to keep the cool air inside. That works pretty well, although not enough so I can work in my studio which is an attic-like space directly under the roof. I can be pretty portable so I'll move to another room for a few days.

Here's a picture from the brunch I served on Sunday. Banana bread, cranberry-orange scones, and a big bowl of fruit salad. We have leftover fruit and I think I can manage to eat some of that today.

brunch

Will post pictures of my vintage finds from my Saturday trip to the flea market over the next few days. I hope to get some photographing done later today.

7.02.2010

whole lotta bakin' going on

I guess everyone's July 4th weekend is busy (at least those of you in the States, that is)—mine is no exception. Tomorrow is the flea market trip and we've been invited to our neighbor's barbecue/fireworks extravaganza later in the evening. On Sunday my friend Jenny is coming to visit with her little boy and I'm serving brunch.

So, today I'm taking a break from sewing to clean my house and do some baking (black bottom cupcakes to bring to the barbecue and our picnic tomorrow), and banana bread for breakfast on Sunday. I need to run to the grocery and pick up some things for our lunch and fruit for Sunday's fruit salad. Lots to do. So, if I don't get the chance to post again before Monday, have a great weekend!

Here's the yummy cupcake recipe—

Black Bottom Cupcakes

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1 large egg
1⁄3 cup sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line muffin tins with fluted paper cups.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla and beat together until well blended.

To make the filling, combine the cream cheese, egg, sugar and salt in a separate mixing bowl and beat well to blend. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Fill each muffin cup one-half full with chocolate batter and top with 1 teaspoon of the cream cheese filling (use 1⁄2 teaspoon for miniature cupcakes). Sprinkle the batter with sugar.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes for miniature cupcakes and 25 to 30 minutes for regular cupcakes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 2 dozen regular cupcakes, or 3-4 dozen miniature cupcakes.

7.01.2010

desperately seeking perfection

The other day someone asked me how I can part with my creations, that they're too pretty to sell. It happens a lot when you first start out making things. You fall in love with your own work and have trouble when it's time to send it on its way. You get over that pretty quickly, simply because you run out of space to keep it all. And the materials used to make them. Ask any quilter or sewer about their fabric stash and you'll see what I mean :)

And, no matter how perfect you think your first efforts are, you're going to get better. There isn't a single thing I make that hasn't evolved over time. I'm constantly seeking perfection (perhaps not desperately, but that did make a good headline). Not just in the finished product but in the process of making it. There will always be ways to work more smoothly and faster, and new and cheaper ways to source the materials used. You may not think about those things at first but you will.

I've been thinking a lot lately about college and some of the influences, inspiration, and life lessons I learned from my professors. On the first day of a ceramics course the professor was showing us how to use the potters wheel, and threw a perfect pot. And we all gasped when he smashed it flat after completing it. I can't remember the exact words he used but it was something to the effect that "If you can make something once, you can do it again, and even better the second time". He was also teaching us to not be afraid of the materials and the process, which seemed daunting at the time. It was a dramatic lesson and one I haven't forgotten.

But back to sending your babies out into the world. I feel that if you've found my website and are spending your hard-earned money to buy something I've made, then we have some kind of connection already. And I feel better sending my creations to their new home because I know you'll love and take good care of them. They're going to friends after all!

6.28.2010

peas and carrots

"Me and Jenny goes together like peas and carrots" —Forest Gump

I've run out of linens with food themes to cut up for pot holders, so I've started embroidering my own fruit and veggie motifs. The two designs shown here are both from a vintage apron I found last summer. There was also a yellow squash on the apron but I've yet to find any fabric that goes with that :)

peas pot holder

peas embroidery

carrot pot holder

carrot embroidery

Patterns for all three vegetables are available for free on my Stitch School blog. They'd be really cute on an apron or tea towel, too, and you should be able to do any one of them in less than an hour.

Next up are birds, Scotty dogs, pears, and grapes. Then I really need to stop with the pot holders and move on to something else for a while.

This coming weekend is the Linen-Button theme weekend at Shupp's Grove flea market in Adamstown, PA. I hope to find lots of great things to work with through the winter—especially handkerchiefs and eyelet for sachets, vintage fabric, and maybe a few feedsacks, too.

6.12.2010

still here

My friend Melody popped in to my last post to ask what's up and if I'm OK. I am OK, just very busy. I had to see a specialist about my continuing knee problem, which is not serious but will take a long time to heal. So, I wasn't able to function very well for a week or so while resting it. Having to hang out in bed for days sounds like it might be fun but definitely isn't. You can only read so much, watch so many movies, and do so much embroidery!

And I heard that an online friend is closing her business after many years. I'm happy that she's going to pursue something else now and understand her reasons. But it threw me a bit, too, because she's always been an inspiration. My first thought was, "OMG, if she can't do it then how can I possibly?" Business has been very slow and all these thoughts go through your head—is it just the bad economy, am I doing something wrong, are my prices OK? It's easy to blame yourself.

But, instead, it pushed me to do some marketing for my business—something I'd planned to do anyway. I sent a mailing with a catalog, sales policy sheet, etc. to a bunch of retail shops where my products seem to fit. I've heard that this often doesn't work, but I've already got a very nice wholesale order from a store in Philadelphia, and hope to hear from some of the more local shops in the coming weeks.

And then I sold a pillow, and another, and another. I got an email about a local craft show that sounds interesting. Things are looking up again.

I've also completed the move of all Stitch School posts to their new home and replaced the list here with a small banner that links to the new one. Look for new stitches soon!

6.03.2010

p is for peony . . . and poppy

The garden is just exploding with flowers. Everything seems to be blooming early this year and very abundantly, too.

peonies
Pink peonies, which were tightly closed buds yesterday, were in full flower today (it was warm last night and that may have helped).

poppy closeup
The inside of a perennial poppy. The pollen coating the stamens is purplish-black in color—it looks like velvet.

closed poppy
A unopened poppy with the petals tightly furled inside. I bought this variety last year and it didn't get a chance to flower so I'm not sure what it's going to look like. Pink for sure but it looks like a darker raspberry color at the base. Can't wait to see it . . . maybe tomorrow.

5.27.2010

in the garden

I'm having such a hard time lately coming up with subjects to blog about. Business in general hasn't been that great so I don't have spare cash to shop with and I haven't been doing much visiting of flea markets and yard sales as a result. I'll hopefully still have great finds to show you once the season officially starts but maybe not as much as in past years.

I have been working a lot outdoors. Well, except for yesterday when it was 90 degrees! I spent yesterday embroidering on my screened porch with the ceiling fan going full blast and a cold glass of iced tea on the table beside me. It helped to move as little as possible.

It's going to be just as hot today so I went out early with my camera and snapped a few shady garden pictures. Maybe looking at them will make us all feel cool!

lupine closeup

This is my new favorite flower—lupines. We planted a bunch of seeds last year but they don't flower until the second year so I'm just getting to see what they look like. And I love them! And want to plant lots more because they look so perfect at the edge of our woods.

lupines

And this is the walkway on the right side of our driveway, the one that leads up to the front yard and the kitchen porch. The stonework is gorgeous but I can't take credit for that—it's been here forever. There's a big cedar tree and rhododendrons, and a row of big hostas on either side of the walkway. This may be my favorite place in the garden. Maybe because it's complete and doesn't need a thing except maintenance.

shade garden

Stay cool out there. And if you have any blog post ideas let me know!

5.09.2010

Happy Mother's Day!


Marion Crawford Lipp Moir (1931-1998) with my father and me! I think this may have been taken when I was christened in the spring of 1958 not on Mother's Day but it's a sweet photo to mark the day today.

Happy Mother's Day!

4.14.2010

a frustrating day

Thanks, everyone, for leaving thoughtful and supportive comments on my last post. It's nice to know that my peeps have my back :)

The one thing you can say about living in a democracy is that not everyone is going to be happy with what results. You may be against health care reform. I may not be happy about my tax dollars going to fund unnecessary wars. That's the way it goes. The fact that we can speak out and express our opinions means a lot.

Coming out (so to speak) has been freeing and I was interested that some commenters would be more likely to support me based on my views. So, I guess it goes both ways.

But, back to what you're really here for. I had the most awful sewing day yesterday. I'm working on those new products I mentioned and I'm quilting a layer of patchwork fabric over two layers of felt—so lots of fabric. Everything was fine until I put a new needle in my machine and started a new spool of thread. Then things went to hell very quickly. The stitches went wonky, the thread snagged, the needle broke—three times! I finally gave up and switched to my newer Bernette. The problem with that is the foot is too wide. You see, on my old Singer the pressure foot is exactly 1/8" on the right side and makes a perfect guide to topstitch 1/8" from the seam. The Bernette is twice as wide and there's no good way to line it up properly. So I'm having to draw a sewing line with fading marker and it's taking me way too long.

I don't know if the problems can be attributed to the needle (maybe I need a heavier one), the new (but same as I always use) thread, or the fact that I used a less expensive felt. My prototype used wool felt inside because I had a piece lying around. The felt I bought the other day (besides being less expensive) is obviously different—it slips and slides easily and just isn't as nice to work with. But will wool felt make this product too expensive to produce? What to do, what to do? See, designing products isn't so easy after all!

I know you're all trying to guess what I'm making and I'll give you two clues. They're almost always square and you use them in the kitchen :)

4.12.2010

differences

In the five years I've been blogging I've noticed something. It's a tendency, when you find someone with similar interests, to identify with that writer and to believe that you have more in common than your love of crafts. Maybe you think they share the same religious beliefs, or political ones, or whatever. You only know about people what they choose to reveal so maybe that's true. But more likely, it isn't.

Ninety-nine percent of the time I talk about crafts but once in a while something related to my political beliefs slips out. And invariably there's an anonymous commenter who calls me out about it. And decides to stop reading or delete me from their blog roll. Fine. The blog world is huge and it's probably better that they go elsewhere to find like-minded friends who believe what they do. The delete function is a wonderful tool.

I use it myself all the time. When I read a blog that talks too much about whatever I don't identify with, I'm gone. Not because I don't like the person who wrote it but because I want to read about things that interest me personally. And that applies to all the types of blogs I read, not just craft-related ones.

So, if it offends you that I identify as a progressive/liberal (no, that doesn't mean I support everything that our president is doing), as a feminist (equal pay, equal opportunity), as non-religious (religion is personal and I was brought up believing that it's crass to talk about it in public), as not having children (really none of your business), or anything else, please hit that delete key.

To the person who wrote recently, referring to me as "one of those people" and assuming they knew what I was referring to and thereby proving my point perfectly, you'll probably be happier elsewhere. As for healthcare reform (which was not my thought, but thanks for bringing it up), I think a society can be judged by how they treat their citizens—all of them—not just the ones who look, act, or think like us. And no, I didn't get what I wanted—far from it.

I'm the kind of person who filters everything I say through my head anyway. Some people would say that's a good thing but it takes a lot of effort. And I get very tired of doing it. If I have to chose every word I write carefully so as not to offend then I might as well give up now. As I wrote to one of those anonymous commenters last year, it's my blog and I'll say what I want in it. I will try to keep politics out of it—I already do—but I can't promise I'll always say just what you find acceptable or comfortable.

Now, I have a busy week ahead. First I'm off to the post office to ship a button order to Norway (that's a first) and then into the studio for tons of sewing. I've been designing a super-cute new product (I'll show you soon) and finishing up a new batch of tea towels and mini wallets. Craft show season is coming!

4.07.2010

strike up the band

I'm so glad that I broke down and bought a laptop because I can sit on my porch and work—just like I'm doing now. I have a pile of embroidery projects to finish and a blog post to write, and it's a really gorgeous day—almost 80 degrees.



The woods behind my house are full of the sounds of birds. It's like an orchestra and it's fun to try to identify which birds are calling. Some sites I like for identifying birds are Bird Jam, eNature, and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds. All have audio clips of bird songs to help you figure out what you're listening to.

Today I have the chattering of goldfinches in the big pine tree beside the garage, chickadees singsong calling for mates, and something else that I can't quite identify. Maybe the Baltimore Oriole since it's just about time for them to return.

My friend Siobhan, who lives in Belfast and writes a blog called On the Lagan for the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) in Northern Ireland, has a great post about bird sounds posted within days of mine. Great minds think alike, I guess. Anyway, it's a wonderful blog if you're interested in birds (UK or otherwise—they're really very similar to what we have here, although sometimes called by different names), plus she's a much better writer than I am :)

4.05.2010

40 things

Borrowed from Small Town Mom because I haven't done a meme in ages and I can't think of much to write about today :)

1. Do you like bleu cheese? Yuck...no
2. Have you ever smoked? No
3. Do you own a gun? Yes, and I'm a pretty good shot, too
4. Favorite type of food? Love Mexican, and Vietnamese
5. Favorite type of music? A little bit of everything. Right now I'm listening to a lot of jazz and Celtic music
6. What do you think of hotdogs? They make me think of summer barbecues
7. Favorite Christmas movie? A Christmas Story
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Coffee
9. Can you do pushups? Haven't tried for a while but I could probably manage a few
10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? A silver and coral bracelet I got on my honeymoon in Sanibel Island, Florida
11. Favorite hobby? Embroidery, but you could have guessed that :)
12. Do you have A.D.D.? No
13. Do you wear glasses/contacts? Glasses, yes. I hate putting things in my eyes so contacts are out for me
14. Middle name? Kathleen, after my grandmother
15. Name three thoughts at this exact moment? I wish my knee would stop hurting. I'm ready for lunch. Is the sun going to come out today?
16. Name three drinks you regularly drink? Sparkling water, iced tea mixed with orange juice, Pom Wonderful iced tea
17. Current worry? Money
18. Current hate right now? Having to pay more for health insurance every month than I do for my house
19. Favorite place to be? Home
20. How did you bring in the new year? I was asleep so I must have missed it
21. Someplace you'd like to go? Italy
22. Name three people who will complete this. No idea; you really have to be in the mood to do these things
23. Do you own slippers? Yes, several pairs
24. What color shirt are you wearing? Navy, orange, yellow, olive green, and white print (my $10 Target tee)
25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? No, I'm a jersey sheets kind of girl
26. Can you whistle? Not well, but yes
27. Where are you now? In my studio
28. Would you be a pirate? Will Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom be there?
29. What songs do you sing in the shower? I really can't sing, so don't even attempt it in the shower. Or anywhere else.
30. Favorite girl's name?  Claire
31. Favorite boy's name? Aidan
32. What is in your pocket right now? A candy wrapper
33. Last thing that made you laugh? Something crazy that my cats did
34. What vehicle do you drive? VW Bug
35. Worst injury you've ever had? Bursitis in my hip
36. Do you love where you live? I love my house but I wish it were somewhere with more fun stuff to do
37. How many TVs do you have in your house? Our one television died about a month ago and we're missing it much less than we thought we would
38. How many computers do you have in your house? Four. Not all in use at the same time
39. If you changed your job, what would it be? I really liked working at the library when I was in college
40. If you were granted three wishes, what would they be? Good health, financial security, and world peace would be nice, too

3.22.2010

C is for...

Cats, of course! I love all kinds of embroidery but I always seem to be drawn to ones with cats and kittens. Yes, they're kind of sweet, but cats are very playful so lend themselves to all sorts of situations. Playing with yarn, jumping rope, fishing in goldfish bowls—you get the picture. Here are some things from my collection:

knitting?
Embroidered quilt block

row your teacup
Vintage stamped-for-embroidery tea towel

fishing
Redwork quilt block

portrait of a cat
Embroidered linen guest towel

jump for joy
Embroidered pillowcase

oh, boy
Another tea towel; made into a pillow I called "Let's Hear it for the Boy"

Mom, we're trying to sleep here...
Wait a minute—we're not vintage!

I had to sneak in a picture of my girls. See why I love cats so much?

v_alphabetJoin us for more Vintage Alphabet Party posts here.