December 31, 2007

How Time Flies

It's only been a few days and M2's carved apple head is looking like a crusty old gent.  He's going to need a flannel shirt and overalls to hold up wool pants.  You could say I cheated by putting him near the fireplace one evening.  Better than going into the oven where he might bake instead.

2007 is ending...  Where did it go?  For me it was a year of adventures, loving, learning, tasting, accepting, tolerating, as well as finding peace and satisfaction where I could.  Here's wishing your new year is everything you want it to be.

December 30, 2007

My Junk -- Your Treasure?!

I did it -- I posted more onto Ebay.  Once I get going, it becomes difficult to stop and I begin looking for things to sell.  Unloading feels so good, even though it takes time to photo, research, describe and post, so the trick is to stop acquiring.  We are a material-istic society, esp This Seamstress, believing more (fabric) is merrier, until the sewing room wants to burst at the seams.  And I haven't begun to sift through woolen yardage I will never use...

December 29, 2007

Shipping Clerk

When I was young I wanted to work in the gift wrap area of a department store and, when I was a little older, the shipping department of a catalog company.  Never did get to either of those careers, but I prepared Ebay items for the post and found the chore to be satisfying.

Magellan can be a strange cat.  He seems comfortable in this odd position.  We have only caught him twice on film, once last year and once a few days ago.

December 28, 2007

Idyllic Idyllwild

We had an overnight getaway up in the tiny mountain town of Idyllwild.  Remnants of snow lay in the streets and on rooftops, and the icy air made us wish for Polartec pants under our jeans.  We explored small art galleries (one of which carried Nadine Spier's pine needle baskets) and had a lovely dinner at Gastrognome.  The temperature upon leaving the restaurant was 31F and descending!  We rushed back to the our cozy room with its warm gas stove.

December 27, 2007

M2's Information Gathering

Hmm, "information gathering..."  I like that!  That's Mary Margaret's ("M2") term for mistakes.  I find it a lot more positive-sounding also.  M2 is a fearless artist and charming spirit who sidled up to me and, before I had a chance to take a breath, became my newest, closest and oldest friend.  Isn't it cool when you meet people like that?!  You feel like you've known each other forever and are unafraid to share secrets.

We spent the afternoon playing in the sewing room.  M2 brought a textile sandwich which she composed in her Texas studio.  The 'bread' was sheer fabrics and the 'meat' was a smorgasbord of clipped tulle, netting, satins and thread bits, mostly synthetics, all in soft muted colors, save for cotton candy pinks and peacock greens.  She instructed me to add a heavy base so I chose an upholstery-weight scrap, then free-motion stitched the layers in a random pattern, just enough to hold the small fabrics in place.  The next step was burning through the fabrics with an embossing heat tool.  The layers peeled back to reveal underlying colors framed by textures of melted fibers.  Ooh, this is so neat!  The fun is the surprise of it all.  I'll work the 'sandwich' a bit more to share another day.  In the meantime, here are other samples, plus an apple head that M2 carved while we gossiped over tea and cookies.  Man, if everyday could be like this...  Having someone fearless standing by makes things lively -- M2 is my new hero.

To Omneya in Cairo, Egypt: Happiest of birthdays to you, my creative friend!

December 26, 2007

73 Degrees on Christmas Day

I still think having Christmas in San Diego is weird.  The sun comes out, the temperature is warm, and we don't bundle up in layers and carry umbrellas.  I haven't gotten used to it.  But it is nice!

We spent the day with Tien's family.  Some of the cousins were in town which made it more fun.  Our gift exchange was prepared a month earlier when the aunties drew names.  These hand-stitched textiles were stuffed inside an envelope from cousin CliffE.  I think maybe I stopped breathing and then shrieked when when I realized what he'd given me!  (He laughed that I hadn't even opened the main gift yet, which had a Maxfield label on it, YUM.)  These examples are used in his Chatav Ectabit clothing.  A tiny pocket in an unusual place might have a bit of trim, so if the wearer moves a certain way causing the pocket to open, a glint catches the eye.  CliffE explained that the beads are precious metals and are sold by weight.  Guess which piece is my favorite?  (wrong; all of them)  If CliffE were a rock star, I'd be a groupie.

December 25, 2007

I'm Still a Child

I'm still a child... in my Mother's eyes.  She often wishes we were babies again which is why she sometimes says strange things to me, "No-no-no-no-no, it's too hot; let ME get it out of the oven," as though this middle-aged daughter of hers has never managed a stove.  Sometimes I feel annoyed, but when I remember it's Mom's wishful thinking, then it's endearing.  Mom pointed out to me this particular Cathy comic strip -- this is truly my mother!

I'm still a child... esp on Christmas morning.  When Janine and I were kids, I was usually the first one awake.  We shared a room so I'd shake her and say, "Come on; let's go check our stockings!"  No matter what our other presents were, Santa left the best stuff for us.  It was magical to see what was wrapped and placed on the hearth.  How did the fat man know what we wanted?!  Then I would reach into the stocking with my name on it in Dad's clear hand to find more goodies:  sweets, small toys, a candy cane and, as we got older, our favorite Chinese-style beef jerky from Jackson Street Market.  Sometimes that little stocking felt endless and I'd go back only to discover more.  Eventually we outgrew the tradition, but it remains my warmest Christmas memory.  I would love to be that child again.  Then Mom and Dad or, er, Santa, would fill our stockings too.

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2007


Tien does not read my blog, so you get to see his Christmas present before he does.  Usotsuki is this character's name and is also a homonym for the word "liar" in Japanese.  Usotsuki cannot tell the truth, but he is thoughtful and altogether okay.  He is reviewing a few more goodies which I intend to post on Ebay.  The pattern for Usotsuki came from a book by Aranzi Aronzo.  Their characters are a crack-up.  I want to sew all of them (two down, eight to go).  We visited their store in Tokyo, although they hail from Osaka where my pal Masami lives.  She's been to the store there and got me several treasures!

Last night I read something shocking -- shocking to me, anyway.  It is no longer necessary or useful to type two spaces after a period, contrary to what I was taught in typing class.  Apparently, all newpapers, magazines and books adhere to this new rule because letters are proportionally spaced now, compared to when we used typewriters.  Is this common knowledge?  I don't know if I'll be able to, or even want to, conform.  Many don't bother with two spaces, but I thought it was because they were self-taught typists or rebels.

December 23, 2007

Wool Roving

Wool roving is long strips of dense clouds that I buy by the ounce.  I want to figure out more things to do with this colorful fluff before I invest in a felting machine.  Felting machines look like standard sewing machines, but do not use thread.  Last thing this sewing room needs (according to Tien) is another machine!

December 22, 2007

Felted Beads

My first attempt at making round felted beads was a major hilariously disgusting failure.  I grabbed small pieces of purple, plum and magenta roving, wet them in the sink with some liquid soap, and started rolling.  Ugh, I thought, this isn't right.  The 'ball' was lumpy and the colors weren't blending.  I gave up on the wad and began shaping it into a roll for the heck of it.  I rinsed it and towel-dried it.  I ended up with something resembling tri-color cat poo.

Second attempt was with magenta roving only.  Same incorrect technique, but with slightly better results.  It was round but had 'cracks' in it.

Then I found an awesome tutorial by a generous knitter and followed exactly as she wrote.  Using yellow roving with a bit of purple, my bead came out PERFECTLY!  This is a happy girl's felted bead.  More to come!

December 21, 2007

Textile Gift Wrap

Someone gave me a generous scrap of shimmery fabric that I wasn't sure how to use, until today.  I was inspired by a tutorial for fabric envelopes when I got the idea to make book pouches as gift wrap.  Yarn came from Carolyn Simpson's scrap bag.  Scraps are wonderful!  One pouch has variegated brown/coffee/latte yarn and the other has bright sari yarn.  Now all the pouches need is ribbon to hold them closed.

December 20, 2007

Ebay Postings

Click on the link above to see more Ebay items.  Sometimes it's difficult to let go.  In the early 1990s I bought a teal green Eddie Bauer coat, full length, water repellant, and thickly lined in down.  Wearing it is like being under the covers:  warm and toasty!  I still have that coat.  Take note, I have been living in San Diego for nearly ten years.  Okay, I've used it a few times:  Good for when I go to SF to see my family; good for going to the snow country; good for standing at the bus stop to wait for Muni...  Ahem, Lauren, it's 70 degrees everyday where you live!  Since I couldn't sell it, I 'made' Tien 'force' me to, so it'll be on Ebay tomorrow.  Bid away, PLEASE.  Otherwise, I'll store it in the top of my closet for a cold and rainy day.  I know already -- the color is so 90s.

I drove north on Interstate 5 to buy my 2008 planner in Encinitas.  Traffic was heavy going south, so I took an alternate route along the beach (the mystical 'ceiling' of clouds when a storm is brewing is so beautiful!).  Although there are two yarn stores on the way home, I was thrifty (haha) and only stopped at one.  Ooh, wool roving colors are vivid!  I have plans to wet small pieces under running water with soap, then roll into balls and rinse.  Once dry, they will be embellished with beads.  Doesn't that sound fun?

I'm going downstairs now to bake banana muffins...

December 19, 2007

Clearing My Space

Click on the link above to see my Ebay items.  Ahh, what a relief to put them out there.  It's a beginning, anyway.  My books are all in excellent condition; most are quilting technique.  There are two rag baskets and, FAIR WARNING, they are not the same quality as you may have seen at my shows.  Tomorrow I will list more items.  Project Runway is on tonight, so time to cozy up in my Lazy Girl recliner with a mug of something warm to sip.

For a year after Tien and I married, my desire to create was gone.  My creativity did a disappearing act.  It went flat, vanished, absent, zero, zip, just GONE, and I was terribly concerned, as this was not part of my existence.  I tried the self-help process The Artist's Way, talking to friends, my beautiful mother, my teacher Nancy Wang... everyone I know, to get outta that funk.  But what brought me back to normal was channel surfing and discovering Season 1 of Project Runway on Bravo TV.  Seeing the designers stitching away put me in my place, "Hey, I *DO* that!" and suddenly, my inventiveness was back in full force.  I'm grateful to Creation for this ability I have.

December 18, 2007

Kappa for Titus

This kappa is for 14 year old Titus, who is in the hospital recovering from shunt replacement surgery to relieve the effects of hydrocephalus.  Titus is the nephew of my friend Renee Roth.  She tells wonderful stories of a clever young man whose small stature belies a wealth of knowledge and computer skills beyond his age.  We think Titus and Kappa have something in common ;-).  Here's to your speedy recovery, Titus.  Joy to your world!

The pattern for kappa came from a book by Aranzi Aronzo.  They have such fun characters, all of whom I intend to sew (one down, nine to go).  We visited their store in Tokyo -- SO much fun!  Another excellent kappa viewing is the animated series, "How To Raise a Water Imp" on YouTube with English subtitles.

December 17, 2007


While researching our trip to Japan this past Spring, I discovered the mythical "kappa."  Kappa live in rivers and streams and an impression atop their heads hold water which provides their strength.  Kappa are pranksters, so the best way to throw them off guard is to bow deeply, as these polite creatures will bow in return, causing their water to spill, thus losing their powers.  If you have tried kappamaki in sushi bars, you've eaten kappas favorite food, cucumbers.  Read more about kappas here.  Here's a kappa I made for Tien for Valentine's Day.

December 16, 2007

One Woman's Junk...

... is another woman's treasure.  I have three shelves of books on quilting and other textile techniques.  Going through them, I see how they have aided the progression of my work.  Many are no longer needed, so onto Ebay they will go.  I have a fascination for bags, esp lines like Eagle Creek and Briggs & Riley, both for sturdiness and thoughtful design.  It's fun to purge, esp when I have an intention to replace.  The end of the year is a good time for me to clear the house.

Low evening temperatures have us using the fireplace.  Magellan loves to be warm too.  It's nice to catch up on magazines and look up to see our small kitty mesmerized by the flames.

December 15, 2007

Gift Tags Completed

Finished! A couple started out with a layer of oil paintstick colors which I blended, but it didn't look nice, so I dotted acrylic highlights around names. These tags will be stapled to brown wrapping paper. That was pretty fun! I want to try a larger one without names.

So many interests, so little time: I bought a book about tambour work, that is, chain stitching from the wrong side of fabric to create a design. I also needed a tambour hook, which is like a tiny crochet hook. Weaving and needle felting are also curiosities to me. I want to try, but do I want to buy? There are small looms available, as well as needle felting machines (like a sewing machine but does not require thread). Maybe first I'll try Japanese braid weaving on the marudai I brought back from Japan this Spring.

December 14, 2007

Beading Is Finished

The hand-beading step is done.  I love 'em all!  My favorite gift tags contain the most varied beads:  wood and glass and buttons.  The last layer will be paint.  Hmm, I wonder how they'll turn out?  Stay tuned and I'll show you tomorrow.

December 13, 2007

Now I Get It!

These are starting to look like a project I wanted to try but didn't make time for:  ATCs or Artists Trading Cards, which were shown in magazines about a year ago.  I'm beading each gift tag now and was only able to finish about half of them.  Oh boy, is this ever FUN -- a different technique every day!  One more day of beading, then I'll play with a bit more paint.  Almost done because it's almost Christmas.  Here are two detailed images.

December 12, 2007

Spare Buttons and Embr Floss

Saving buttons has a purpose.  Also, there is a reason to keep useable bits of embroidery floss for a zillion years.  Both knew they would become a part of these gift tags, even if I didn't.  This is pretty exciting.  What will happen tomorrow?  It's another thing I don't know yet.  Ahh, relax and let it flow.  There are no disappointments when there are no expectations.

December 11, 2007

Yarn Doodling

Nylon thread, zigzag stitches and yarn:  heeheehee, I can't stop giggling about this!  It's yarn scribbles on fabric gift tags.  Names are beginning to fade into the background, but there is more to do.  Before starting tonight's work, I thought I should have prepared the surface differently with broad swashes of paint.  That's a path for another day...  I still don't know where this is going, but the journey is fun.

December 10, 2007

To / From Gift Tags

When I was younger I spent HOURS wrapping gifts.  They had to be spectacular looking, by my standards anyway, despite whatever might be inside.  I also spent a fortune on materials.  Not anymore!  What you see started out as interior designers sample scraps.  They've been at the bottom of a box for 5 or 6 years (remember these, Benzo?).  I cut them into quarters and zigzagged the edges.  Writing was done with fabric paint that I bought for a buck a bottle from Joann's about 14 years ago (yes, OLD paint).  I'm not sure where this project is going, but I'll embellish tomorrow after the paint dries.  This is pretty different from what I thought I was going to do earlier.

December 9, 2007

Many Sighs of Relief

Yesterday's show was grand.  The show producers, Suzanne & Steve Fish, prepared well and they meant it when their flyer said, "Rain or Shine!"  Our outside tables were covered with 10'x10' awnings and they were ready with additional huge sheets of plastic for vendors in case of a sudden downpour.  The rain held off and people were out in droves.  All my unnecessary weather worries caused a case of intermittent vertigo which I am still contending with. (How neurotic is that?)  Customers took home silk baskets, lavender pillows and dolls -- I'm ever grateful for their appreciation of my work!  My quiltmaker buddy Nancy (in the photo) benefited too which I hope encourages her to sell in the future.  An hour after the show closed, rain came down in buckets for the rest of the night.

Ahh, a day off.  It's Sunday, a day of rest...

PM Post Script:  in order to safely peel sweet potatoes with a potato peeler, I wore rubber dishwashing gloves.

December 7, 2007

Last Public Show of the Season

Carmel Valley Artists Show & Sale
Saturday, 8 December 2007
9:30a to 3:30p

Karl Strauss Brewery Gardens
9675 Scranton Road in Sorrento Valley
San Diego, California

Hope to see you there!

December 5, 2007

Eth-Noh-Tec, Tangerines & Nioi Bukuro

Oh my GOSH, can I fit it all of this orange into one posting?!

Eth-Noh-Tec:  My teacher Nancy Wang and her husband Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo will be performing this Saturday at 7:30p at University of San Diego's Manchester Conference Auditorium.  Their creative storytelling is nothing like most of us have ever seen and I will be there to watch them again.  Try to go -- you will leave with a full heart.

Tien and I devoured the sweet/slightly tart and seedless fruit which were contained within these skins, but now they are drying in my kitchen to flavor my Chinese cooking.  The fruit came from the tree of my Uncle Bucky (Bock Kwong) who lives in Sacramento.  When Auntie Frances called my mother to ask, "Should I scrape the insides before drying?," I got the idea that I should do this too.

So much for nioi bukuro!  I got carried away stuffing small lavender pillows and they will not have the traditional nioi bukuro shape where the sack is tied on top to resemble a gourd.  Nioi bukuro were small sachets to be tucked into kimono.  Of course mine are too big, but it was a thought.  I will try again next year.  The orange wool fabric came from a child's garment.

December 4, 2007

Carmel Valley Artists Show & Sale

Be there or be square!  My final show for the holiday season will be held this Saturday, 8 Dec, from 9:30a to 3:30p at the Karl Strauss Brewery Gardens in Sorrento Valley, in San  Diego.  Please go to my website for a map.

Joining me at my booth will be quilting pal Nancy Tyrell.  Her color choices are bright and cheery, and she often works with batiks.  The workmanship is of the highest quality.  Nancy helped me choose fabrics for my last quilt and it turned out beautifully.  Here is a photo of one of the quilts she will have for sale.

December 3, 2007

What Is It Worth? *UPDATED*

I wrote about pricing and value last month.  Following is an update made clear by my teacher Nancy Wang, and copied here with her generous permission.  After she taught this to me, my feelings about money changed.  Ah, the perspectives are many!  These are the tools I'll use to price lavender pillows, and a lot of other textile treats.

How much do you want to pay?
(based subjectively on what it is worth to you)
"I want to pay $_____ because ..."

How much are you willing to pay?
(based on your sense of your own worth in relationship to what you are buying)
"I am willing to pay $_____ because ..."

How much do you think you should pay?
(based on beliefs)
"I think I should pay $_____ because ..."

How much can you pay?
(based on your present and true economic picture)
"I can pay $_____ because ..."

Looking at all those factors, one then comes up with what is best in that situation and what the seller/artist/therapist, etc. is willing to accept as well, based on the same principal turned the other way around.

What am I willing to accept and why.
What am I wanting to accept and why.
What should I accept and why.
What can I accept (based on the worth of my work, artistry and time) and why.

December 2, 2007

Pretty Darn Happy

I have nothing to show, but I have bits to share.

My mom reported my 7 year old nephew Ryan made a stuffed animal!  I have not seen the creature yet, but he used his new sewing skills for construction.  When I was home over Thanksgiving, Ryan came to me with a small sewing kit, asking, "Auntie Lerwy, can you teach me to knit?"  He didn't yet know the difference.  The next day, we inspected the seam of his shirt to see how the front and the back were held together.  Next I named the notions in his sewing kit, then we gathered materials for his first project:  a white paper towel torn in half, colored thread, scissors, straight pins and a needle.  He pinned the paper towel together, made a knot at the end of the red thread, then learned how to sew running stitches to hold together the paper towel pieces.  Ryan also learned to back stitch and make an end knot.  He was proud of his work and we admired the seam afterwards.  When his mother arrived later, he proclaimed, "Mommy, look what I made!  Look at my seam!" as he held it open for inspection.  What a joy this munchkin is.  I love teaching him things I know.  Luckily, he does not ask for advice on sports.

I spent part of the day sewing labels onto a small pile of kimono fabrics.  Since my lavender order will not arrive for a few days, I quit early and jumped onto the computer to do my Christmas shopping.

Several years ago, my family began distributing wish lists.  It has made gift exchanges much easier.  We each give what others want and we receive what we'd like.  Online shopping is also a green approach:  better than driving all over town searching for 'the perfect gift' and then wrap/ship to SF (we are staying in SD this Christmas).  I want to make brown paper bags with the fronts decorated with paints, rubber stamped images, yarn, collage pieces and to/from names.  It will be fun to make miniature artworks.  Then, the bags will be mailed to my Mom who will help me unpack the gifts (mostly from one website) and place into the decorated bags.  I hope to make a mess on my work table -- the challenge will be to loosen up/let go.

Made My Day:  My lovely basketry teacher Nadine Spier forwarded my compliments to Michael Rodhe whom I blogged about.  He wrote back to her, saying he read my blog, was also impressed with my work, and the thought and energy that goes into what I do.  Wow!  I considered learning his knotting technique until Nadine told me it takes months to complete an object.  Now I'm even more in awe of his work.  I'd better stick to needle and thread.

Gosh, I've been full of smiles all day!

December 1, 2007

Am I Done Yet?

Almost!  Sunday is a sewing day in prep for the Carmel Valley Artists Show & Sale to be held Saturday, December 8th (check website for a map!).  I'll be stitching up a little storm of small pillows.  This group was inspired by nioi bukuro which were tiny gourd shaped sachets meant for tucking into kimono.

When done with sewing, I've got a few things on my mind:
* tidy up the garden
* read a book
* knit a goes-with-everything black sweater
* catch up on National Geographic magazines
* make a Christmas tree
* online Christmas shopping
* plan holiday party for girlfriends

When can I start?  Soon!  There are also textile-related magazines piling up over the past few months.  Everyone's life should be so full (or not).  Economist John Kenneth Galbraith said, "Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy day."  I love the rain -- esp when I'm in my sewing room.  :-)