Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fabric shopping - China

So I've been meaning to write a post about a crafty experience from our trip this fall. So here it is!:

One of the cooler places we went to in China was a small minority village in northern Guan'xi province. We ended up in this area after we had been kicked out of the previous village we were in. Literally. A policeman came to our hotel door in the morning telling us, with the help of a book that actually had some english in it, that we weren't allowed to be there and had to be on the next bus out of town. Clearly, that's another story for another day!

The Dong people here are building up some tourism capacity, but once in the nearby villages you could get away from the stage performances of traditional dances and insistent artisans trying to sell their goods. About a 30 minute walk from the village where the bus had dropped us off the day before, we were strolling through a quiet Dong village, when we noticed what looked like fabric hanging from the upper porch of one of the homes. Upon taking a closer look, we realized that it was fabric dyed with indigo. I was pretty keen to get a good look at it, so up the slope we went, and there we found a woman beating another piece of fabric with a large wooden mallet. As far as I can tell, this seems to set or help set the indigo dye. Her hands were completely stained purple - a stain I don't think can ever be washed off. After standing awkwardly for a few seconds, I thought maybe this would be a cool opportunity to buy fabric on our trip; on the other hand, I really felt like I was intruding on something. After a few more seconds debating whether or not to stay, we decided we may as well and began trying to communicate with the woman that we wanted to look at the fabric.

Our Chinese was and continues to be terrible, consisting mainly of numbers used to barter prices for food, and key words like 'No'. We entered the 3 story home built of wood, and a few more women appeared. It seemed that although someone clearly lived in this house, this place was used by several women to make fabric. We had noticed small parcels of land being used to cultivate cotton, but it wasn't until we were invited to move to the second floor of the home that we realized this cotton was grown, harvested, cleaned, spun and woven into fabric right here in the village.

This is a shot of one of the cotton plants we had seen:

The pile of cotton on the second floor of the house:

and here was my favorite discovery - the loom:

Needless to say, after seeing all this: the number of women involved and how complete the process from plant to finished piece of fabric, I knew I wanted to buy some here. And so began the bartering. Actually to be honest, the bartering went like this: Mark and I would say a number (or write it with our fingernails into the wood of the wall when neither party could understand the numbers being said by the other), the head woman would say no, then we'd try another number, and she'd say no yet again. It was our first encounter with someone who wouldn't budge. In the end, we paid what she asked for, because it was beautifully done and we knew (or the best you can ever know in these circumstances) that the money was going directly into the hands of the women who made the products.

As it turned out, the women also produced some pieces of finished clothing, and I ended up with a traditional women's wrap shirt. Unfortunately this is the only picture i have wearing it. It was so cold that day I was wearing all the layers I brought...so you'll just have to take my word for it that the fabric is beautiful!

On our way back to the first village where we were sleeping that night, I wore this shirt for a while, much to the joy of some of the woman working in the fields. There were some smiles, a few claps and a couple of thumbs up. That's my kinda language.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Murphy’s Law

You know that feeling you get when you’re looking for a particular item and you can see it—so clearly in your mind’s eye—in a very exact location? I’m SURE my car keys are on the kitchen counter—I can PICTURE them there—right next to the fruit bowl and slightly hiding beneath today’s mail. That image slowly fades from your mind as you race to the kitchen--the 7th of several locations in the key hunt--and find that in fact, the counter is absent of said car keys.

Well, my car keys are actually safe and sound, but there is a little green button that has managed to stay one step ahead of me. This button was purchased to match specific fabrics for a specific coffee cozy and its number is up. I was SURE it was in my Joann Fabrics bag along with some newly purchased knitting needles and fabric. Nope. Then—wait! I know! It’s downstairs on my dresser, right next to my jewelry box. I head down, shaking my head and laughing at my forgetfulness as I swing open the door to my room and—you guessed it—no button. When I turn to head back out I’m almost sure I see something green and round race around the corner in front of me.

On my way up the stairs I pick up a sock that missed the load of laundry I put in the washer 10 minutes ago (another self-pet-peeve of mine). Of course, the washer JUST finished draining so the sock will have to wait. Then I look closer and see that some of my clothes are still dry—what’s going on here? Well, it would have been helpful had I changed the load size to large instead of small. ARRRRRG!!!!!

I take a deep breath and pour myself a glass of wine. I run my clothes through a quick wash (on a large load size) and put my green button project on hold while I finish my niece’s 1st birthday present instead (cream baby mitts with a soft green minky lining; see picture). Christmas tunes sing sweetly to me from the radio and icicle lights twinkle at me from the window. Ahhhh, that’s better. The search for that damn button will just have to wait.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Virgin Quilter

Welp, I went and did it. I started my first quilt. Eva kindly suggested I start with something relatively simple (i.e. squares) and generously loaned me a book. I picked the nine patch quilt to make for my guest bedroom.

It will eventually be about 60"X60". I am making it slightly smaller than what the pattern calls for because it will be an extra blanket on a full size bed. I also haven't cut the triangles to go around the sides.

I have a question for you all though. Do you think I need to add another goldish color that is between the light gold and the medium golds? I had one in my hands and then put it back. Now I am thinking I need it.

Thanks in advance for the suggestions!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Sackville First

I'm hosting my first sewing night tonight. There could be just me and one other person,.. or maybe as many as 6. I'm not sure yet. Either way, it's making me think of you lovely ladies and how much I miss you!

In honour of its Edmonton roots, Sackville Sewing Night's first project will be box bags :) Hopefully I'll have some photos to share. If nothing else, I'll put a dent in my Christmas to-do list!



ps. Quilt was a hit! Babe is adorable. I want one. Tyson is in trouble. Over and out.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Soooo close!

As many of you know, during craftcation 2010 I started my first quilt. I wanted to put together something relatively simple and small for my first quilting project and I thought a baby quilt for Tyson's expecting sister might be just the ticket!

That was in April.
It is now November. (gasp).

Our newest niece, Sarah Catherine Rogers, arrived at 7 pm on October 29 and her quilt is still not ready, BUT I have made some significant advancements in the past week, and I'm hoping that everything will be completed by the time we finally meet her this Saturday!

Here is the photo I took just after craftcation. I sent this to Kim while she was in Singapore:

And here it is as Linnea and I made the sandwhich,.... (miss you, L)

And here are a couple of shots of it all quilted together!!!!

Only the binding remains!!! whooohooo!!

Will post photo of babe and finished quilt after this weekend :)



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dress for School Pictures

I made this dress for Cora on Sunday for her school pictures. It was insanely easy to make. Does this mean it was actually insanely easy to make or am I getting better at reading and understanding patterns? I actually bought the fabric (Riley Blake's Bloom and Grow) and pattern (Kyla Reversible Dress from Frog Legs and Ponytails) this time last year to make her a dress for her 1st birthday. I am actually glad I waited because she gets around so much better in dresses now

Love this fabric!

I love this fabric as well, but this side bores me. I am thinking about adding a pocket or some other kind of decal. What do you all think?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hungry Hippos mascot anyone??

Meet Artamer...
... this handsome young hippo comes from the incredibly talented hands and creative mind of Ms Badskirt in the land down under (you know...the crazy place where the Christmas season brings with it many cute summer dress wearing opportunities rather than ugly sweater parties). I've been admiring Amy's quirky style and fabulous Hippo family for a long time now but only recently started to get to know her better (she's one of those fabulous "swappy-poo" buddies I mentioned in the last post). Well anyways...I'll stop blathering on about Amy because you can go check her out for yourselves. 

What I REALLY want to talk about is this huggable-lovable hippo who sent me a telegram the other day (quite some time ago now really but I only just received it...you know the telegram service just isn't what it used to be) submitting his resume to be the Hungry Hungry Hippo's team mascot. He had pretty well given up hope by the time I got back to him...and now he needs a little reassurance that we're really the right fit for him. Head on over to visit his manager (yes, he's become THAT popular in recent times) and she'll fill you in on what it will take to get him back on-board. (Maybe just don't mention the fact that the Hungry Hungry Hippos have disbanded, k?!)

Happy Monday (and don't forget to wish Ms Kim a big congratulations on Friday)!

Monday, October 18, 2010

I figured it was about time...

I can't believe it took this long to write my first blog post. But never mind that...who writes blog posts about blogging?!

First off I would like to say how much I miss each and every one of you...'cause it is A LOT!! With some of you now settled in new far off lands and the rest of us faced with the crunch (pun intended...hehehe) of fall deadlines, things just haven't been the same around here. I'm missing late evening sewing sessions, Sunday afternoon [watching everyone else] sewing sessions, random afternoon jaunts for coffee, and stuff your face dinner parties with my girls (and truth be told...even Joe's yelling). Maria and Kim have been talking about a Skype date sewing session and I think we should all try to make this happen sometime after Kim is done with the dreaded candidacy exam.

As for me, busy as per usual! I've gone back to working in hell...oops, I mean the good ol' St Louis lab. Surprisingly though, things aren't too bad around here and I'm looking forward to getting my manuscript submitted in the next month or so (the boss man is actually paying me for a week or 2 to finish up my edits)...sometimes it does pay to procrastinate. And speaking of procrastination, I've been avoiding my work quite nicely by playing with fabric and getting ready to start a new quilt. I'm super happy with the way my dodo bird fabric translated into a pillow and have been wanting to make a matching quilt along the same color scheme.
                                                That's it poking through in the background!

And then, when the leaves started changing color I just couldn't handle it anymore...I started pulling fabrics out from under my bed. Here's the combo...what do you think?? I can't decide if I want to add anymore yellows or leave it as is. My swap buddies have been super helpful in helping me to acquire some of the fabris that I had in short supply (for example, the mustard wallflower which was kind of a must have). I have 104 squares cut...and only about 100+ to go...good thing I like to procrastinate :)

Love you all dearly and miss you much! L

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Apron Appeal

Okay ladies. I'm on the prowl. On the prowl for a pattern. A pretty pattern. A pretty pattern for an apron.

That would have sounded a lot more elegant had 'apron' started with a 'p.'

Anyway, I found some styles I really like (http://www.etsy.com/shop/bambinoamore?section_id=6237629 ; especially the Jessie and Eloise), but these are obviously for sale as the finished product. In addition to totally overwhelming myself with googling "free apron patterns," I've decided to appeal to you all to see if you have any specific tips on where to look for a rather feminine, frilly apron pattern.

Any ideas?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

OMG OMG OMG... Linnea is going to FREAK OUT

you may have already seen this today, but since I'm the furthest east, and therefore the first one checking my Reader in the morning, it is my distinct privilege to share with you, THESE!

FMF tights!?! Unreal. FITF posted about them this morning and I HAD to share... they're available at Anthropologie (this is their photo). Let's buy them. All of us. You too James.

Monday, September 20, 2010

...like I said...

...only crafting posts from me for a while! Here's a little stuffed bear I just finished for our friends in Peterborough who had a beautiful little girl Sadie:

Clearly...a grey bear is a bit of a stretch especially...one with green eyes and a blue nose/mouth...but hey - she's a baby...she'll never know that I was too lazy to buy appropriate colour wool/embroidery thread!

That's it from me...


good things come in 3's??

Sooooo we may have bought a house. Apparently getting married and going away for 7 weeks wasn't enough of a challenge, we thought we'd throw on the tiniest of tasks in purchasing our first home. I'm feeling a little embarrassed and braggy about the number of 'big things' we've accomplished recently, so I promise from now on, I will have nothing but knitting and sewing projects to show. I promise.

So without further ado...here it is!

I haven't taken pictures of the inside yet. I keep waiting for the moment when it will all be cleaned and looking lovely...but given that we're leaving on our trip in 2.5 days...not gonna happen! So here's one the inspector took awhile ago:

We also had to undertake our first home reno project - ever - this past weekend to make sure the roof was in good shape for the winter. We had to add ventilation..which would help with some ice forming problems. Anyways...I now know how to apply venting and re-shingle the ridge of a roof! Hoorah!

(doesn't he look cute with a power tool!??!)

These are our neighbours in the front yard. In fact 2 days ago i came outside to take a picture of the cows and noticed one was eating around our fire pit...Lesson #1...how to deal with stray farm animals. Go inside and hope they wander into the neighbours yard. Yup - I think I have what it takes to be a good neighbour!

Now when i'm ill and tired on our trip I can find an internet cafe and check on the blog to remind myself about home sweet home!:)


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

An Ode to Crafting

In the wake of many of us embarking on new adventures, I was inspired to write the little ditty below. Cheers to Crafting!

An Ode to Crafting

by Mara Erickson (crafter-in-training)

Dedicated to the crafty ladies of Edmonton, AB (and Smithers, BC, and Fort Collins, CO, and Minneapolis, MN, and Sackville, NB,
and wherever else we may end up!)

There once were some ladies who’d craft

with talents in baking to match.

And then the group split

for new spots to knit,

but never forgot how they laughed!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A minor mishap

I've been known to dye a sock or two pink, but I generally use cold water washes so it's usually not too problematic. Ditto on the shrinkage of clothing.

Yesterday, however, I did something that really really really really takes the cake.

First of all, let me say that I am constantly nagging you-know-who about taking coins, receipts and (ugh) kleenexes out of his pockets because it produces a veritable clothing and white-bit cornucopia of a mess.

As of yesterday, I don't think I'm ever again allowed to badger him again:

Ladies, I somehow managed to put an entire cooking MAGAZINE into the laundry. I'm not making this up. Luckily it was only a Food Network magazine and not one of my coveted Jamie magazines, but still...

Someone please tell me they've done this before and how I can fix this. This was, of course, a load that contained my favourite dresses, yoga pants, and pretty much all of my knickers. It was the type of load that you put off doing until you realize that the only clean clothes you have left are the ones you hate wearing and are just waiting around waiting to be sent to Value Village!!!

...I think I know the answer:

Shopping trip, anyone?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Urban Knitters

There is a "new" knitting shop in Old Strathcona. I say new in parentheses because I can't be certain that it is really, truly new. I just noticed it for the first time this week on my drive in to school. It is called Urban Knitters and here is their web site http://www.urbanknitters.com/. One of these days I'll check it out. ;)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Run "R" Run

Look to the right. Yep, a whole list of crafty blogs I added today while R was doing the hard work for my thesis! Add your favorites so we can have many ways to procrastinate. Sorry, Alana.

On another note, I am up for many Sunday afternoon sewing sessions after September 13th. I am undertaking the task of Cora's halloween costume this year. She will be going as Cindy Lou Who from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Can you see it?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

thesis vs. crafts vs. craft blogs

I need some help.

I'm trying to finish the edits for my thesis. trying. I need to finish them by the end of the week due to upcoming moves/travels. Yet all I want to do post-wedding is craft. I want to knit (i've got a few cute projects on the go...), but I especially want to sew. I'm feeling very nesty and really want to make house things...slipcovers, finish a few wall hangings...

Additionally, I've been deleting some of my favorite wedding blogs from my google reader(a practical wedding) and apparently replacing them with crafting blogs. I can't stop. I need an intervention.

Please advise on the steps required to pull myself out of the real and online craft worlds and back to me thesis.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Some crafty giftys from our wedding

I guess i should start with a photo of our wedding:

Photos by Amanda Follett

For the record - Mark hated the photoshoot...it didn't last long, but i thought he was going to run into the hills! Also, he looks rather handsome in a skirt:)

So here are a few of the crafts we whipped up from the wedding:

This is a bag I made for the wonderful Alaine (my unofficial, official matron of honour). It's not perfect, but it's by far the best thing I've sewn so far!

The deer image was silk screened courtesy of 2 days spent in Sophie's studio, and we used it on a bunch of different things...ties, pillow case, canvas for the purse...

Above is the inside of the purse. I made a pocket. I didn't mess it up. I feel pretty good about that.

These are some of the ties we made for a few of the fellas. By made I mean Sophie printed on the ties while I held the screen down

We also silk-screened on a bunch of t-shirts, an apron and some canvas bags:

The thank-you tags were definitely a bit of a labour of love. I was determined to use this amazing mulberry paper I got in Vancouver, but of course it was completely impractical as it can't go through the printer. I ended up using Sophie's Gocco machine and used veneer business cards as a backing for the tags. I loved them.

Mark and I also made jam. Lots and lots of jam. I used an 'old fashioned' recipe that requires leaving the strawberries and sugar for 24 hours and then eight hours so that you don't need to add pectin. This has worked well in the past, but when we 20 or 30x the recipe, the cooking times change, and apparently this affects the setting process. Needless to say the jam is tasty, beautifully red, but best used for dipping or pouring over ice cream! :(

This is my very pregnant friend Lisa (who recently gave birth to a beautiful little girl) helping me cut out perfect circles for the jam labels. I used a silk screen to print the labels in a colour I liked onto hemp paper I liked. Then we stuck double sided sticker tape to the bottom and used a Martha Stewart circle cutting device to cut them into circles for the lids...I know...a stupid amount of work for a sticker, but I was as pleased as could be with the final product!

We made 79 jars. I don't want to make anymore jam for awhile.

This is just a shot of my spinning wheel. I finally spun something I'm almost proud of. I of course forgot to take a picture of the finished skein before I gave it to Mark's sister as her thank you gift, but it is an icelandic cross wool that I got from the lady in Edmonton who sold us lamb the other year. Really nice stuff. I spun it in the grease, didn't dye it, and made it 2-ply...not sure if anyone cares about that...but I think it's good for me to document it somewhere what I did!

I think that's it. There was obviously a lot more. I can't find pictures of the masons jars in all their glory, but here's a shot of the hall all decked out. It's tough to see the jars, but they were simple and beautiful. I loved it. The food was simple and delicious and the party was amazing!

I need to work on getting pictures from everybody, but I leave you with these of some people having a good 'ol time with some good 'ol fashioed scottish country dancing!

(Photos by Amanda Follett)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Done and done

Well - the 'ol wedding has come and gone. We're still cleaning and trying to recover sleep we most certainly did not get during the last week. It was a smashing success, and i have a whole bunch of crafty pictures to share once i've remembered how to off-load my camera and bring my laptop to the office!

We're married. That's cool.

Stay tuned...


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Life in Sackville so far,...

Hello lovely ladies,
I thought I'd share a teaser of what I've been doing and seeing since life in Sackville began 2 weeks ago...

Walking around Mount Allison campus.... 

Sitting by the swan pond,...

Hanging clothes to dry....
Making delicious drinks with mint and Italian soda!...

(This I call "unemployed on a summer friday afternoon")

Eating nectarines,..

Buying furniture,...

And more furniture,..

Painting sewing rooms,....

... and missing you all,..


ps. I realize that this has little to do with either crafting or cooking, but I thought you wouldn't mind ;)