Portland Picnic

This past weekend was dominated by Hurricane Irene news, but Saturday in Maine was beautiful. A lot of friends from my Crafty Biz meet-up group were participating in the Portland Picnic so I headed up north for the day.

This photo booth had the coolest props ever! Look at those masks!

Here is Laura of Pansy Maiden, with her vegan bags.

Eling of Rhinofluff.

Danielle of The Merriweather Council

Lisa of RedStaggerwing Designs

Jen of Zooguu

and Melissa of Pressbound

I also saw Jennifer Judd-McGee of Swallowfield fame. It was a beautiful day, a fantastic selection of artwork, the crowds were out, and everyone was talking about the pending hurricane and enjoying the event. After a few hours, I left the park and walked to meet-up with my husband and son. I saw this weather vane along the way-

Before leaving town, we took Peter out for a great Mexican dinner at Zapoteca– Yum! Great day all around. We left Portland in the early evening and headed back to Boston. We hit the first rain right at the New Hampshire line and a steady downpour once we were back in Massachusetts. We had rain, we had wind, but where I live, we came out mostly unscathed. We are lucky and thankful.

This oak leaf was on the porch this morning. The thing is, I have no idea where there is an oak tree any where near us. Yes, it was windy!

visit to the Shelburne Museum

I had SO MUCH fun- what a glorious day! My visit to the Shelburne was wonderful. To start, the weather was perfect- mid-70’s, clear, no humidity, light breeze. Amazing. There is tons to see so I guess I will just have to go back. I tried to see the things I knew I would be most interested in and along the way I also saw some other treasures that weren’t on the list.

My friend and I started at the top on the hill and headed down the path that lead us into the carousel exhibit. The Round House building  also held a 3-d paper exhibit. The artwork of Jared Schorr caught my attention- enough that when I got home, I checked out a whole lot more of it on his website.

Next, we went to the Circus Building. Learning about the circus collection is what reminded me last winter that I really needed to visit. I have known about the Shelburne for years, especially their toy and folk art collection and I knew I wanted to go “some day”. But, it is far enough away (4+ hrs driving) that it is easy to forget about. I am so glad that I made myself leave the studio and make the trek.

They have an amazing collection of posters. Here is my friend standing next to one so you can see the scale. I love these giraffe. I might have to spend some time thinking giraffe thoughts. Most of the exhibits had glass in front so please forgive the glares and reflections.

This was my favorite exhibit in the circus collection- an enormous circus “toy”. One man (Edgar Decker Kirk) worked for 40 years, first for his children and later for the neighborhood kids. I can totally relate to getting so immersed in a project. It would be fun to examine each piece close up- there are so many details.

After the circus, we explored needle arts. Amazing quilts, samplers, embroidery, clothing. This is a fantastic collection for anyone interested in fiber arts.

I fell in love with the Helen Bruce dioramas and am grateful that (no flash) photography was allowed. I am thrilled that my photos actually came out so well considering how little light there was. Unfortunately there didn’t seem to be any postcards or books with photos so I’m glad I’ve got a record. This photo has my hand for scale. (More photos on flickr)

And our last stop was the folk art collection. Again, so much inspiration in this collection. And, I loved the bright colored rooms that the artwork is displayed in.

I have added a lot more photos to Flickr. I would highly recommend a visit to this wonderful museum. I am only showing what I saw and we were at the museum from 10:30 until 5. There is so much more as you can see if you check out their website. I did some other things on my trip, but I’ll save that for another day.


a gift guide for sewers

or maybe I should call it a gift guide for people who do assorted projects with fabrics, sort of like what I do…

These are things (mostly tools) that make me happy in my studio and I think would make great gifts.

When I was thinking about what to put on this list, it became obvious that I love my nice sharp cutting tools. My first suggestion is excellent scissors and Gingher’s are a good choice. I recently bought myself the 5″ knife-edge ones and they are my new favorites- sorry, drawer full of all the other little scissors that I have totally abandoned!  They are perfect for all the detail cutting work I do with the appliques. The big ones are good for cutting through layers of fabric and I use them to cut out the dolls. The little stork one, besides being adorable, is perfect for cutting threads in tight places, cutting out REALLY tiny things, and putting in my project bag if I am working on a carry-around project.

If the person you are shopping for already has good scissors, you might research a local place to get them sharpened. In my area (Boston), I can get mine done for approximately $7 at the local Fabric Store or Hardware Store.

My most recent tool purchase is this 18mm rotary cutter. It is perfect for cutting out shapes when I am using a template or little pattern piece- because I can hold the pattern flat and firmly in place on the cutting mat and cut around it. That means no marking on the fabric and no distortion from trying to hold the pattern in place and cut with scissors. The scissors and rotary cutter are available at most fabric stores, local and big name.

Last in the sharp cutting tool suggestions- fabric cutting, decorative edge shears. Unfortunately, my excellent Fiskar ones are no longer available, but I found this other brand. You might be able to find the Fiskars on Ebay sometimes.

On to other goodies.

Yes, a large piece of clear plastic is hard to photograph! This is a sewing machine extender table. I like this table even more then I was expecting. I thought I would use it when working on my bigger, bulkier projects but I have never taken it off since I got it! This is a special order item and fits whatever machine you have exactly. It can take a while to get if you have an older or more obscure machine. Looks like you can buy it online here for a lot less than I paid at my local sewing machine store.

If the recipient loves embroidery,  trying out new kinds of embroidery threads is tons of fun. Purl Soho has a huge selection. My new thread love of this year is Valdani pearl cotton– especially the variegated one. Next time I am in NYC, I will be restocking my supply.

Of course if they do embroidery, they might need some needles- I had fun shopping for needles at the Colonial Needle site. Seriously, how cute are these John James pebble packs-

embroidery and chenille needles

If you are looking for a last minute gift because you didn’t have any time to go shopping, a subscription to Selvedge Magazine will save the day!

Lastly, if you want to stick to handmade for the season, you could go over to my shop and get a pattern or 2, or maybe a tiny world pin cushion. Or my friend Liz’s shop and check out her  amazing selection of pin cushions. Or check out some of the other sewing goodness on Etsy. Try searching for pin cushions,  needle books, wool felt assortment, fabric collections, hand dyed threads….  Oh, the goodness! Happy Holiday shopping everyone!

Feel free to leave you suggestions for the perfect gift in the comment section- so I can add goodies onto my own wish list!

presents to myself

First an announcement! Tomorrow, Wednesday October 13 is Crafty biz meet-up day at Diesel Cafe in Davis Sq., Somerville.  All are welcome. Contact me if you need more info or want to be informed of future meet-ups.

My personal economy  has improved a bit lately and I have treated myself to some sewing presents.  I re-subscribed to Selvedge magazine. My first copy showed up the other day. I had a subscription a few years ago and I’m happy to be getting it again. It is a beautiful magazine.

Next I bought a new pair of scissors- 5″ Ginghers

I love them. They are the perfect size for cutting out applique pieces and clipping curves. If you saw how many pairs of scissors I already own (many of them originally from my mom), you’d be wondering why in the world I needed another pair. But, even though I have so many, there is just a few that I ever use. I became much more aware of that when I was working with my intern this summer. So, it turns out that I own a lot of decorative scissors and just a few functioning ones. I am very happy with with this gift to me.

And, I got my machine serviced. We are both happier now!

No more chunk, chunk, chunk noises when I sew. The tension is looking good too. I had a list of problems when I took it in and I have forgotten what they were- that is a good sign. When I was at the shop to pick up my trusty friend, I remembered that I’ve been wanting an extender table for my machine- like this. I am waiting for it to come in so I can pick it up.

And lastly, some new needles. I know, it seems like such a small item, but really, good needles make such a difference! I ordered them from The Colonial Needle Company.

I am trying out the small size Chenille needles (#24 and 26) with crewel wool. So far (they just came today), I really like them. I have been a fan of John James needles for a while, but my local store stopped carrying them so I was happy to find another source. Good tools are such a pleasure.

Paris fabric shopping

And now for where I went and what I bought! Firstly, a HUGE thanks to everyone who gave me suggestions of places to go. I laid them all out on a Google Map and used that map to plan every day. That map is here. I’ve added notes to many of the addresses.

It was very hot while I was in Paris and so I didn’t run around quite as much as I might have if it had been cooler. There are a lot of wonderful shops in Paris that cater to people who do needlecrafts- mostly cross-stitch. And, there is a wide variety of beautiful threads in most of the shops- some of which I haven’t seen here. The stores I visited had cotton floss, linen floss, wool, silk, blends, thick threads and thin threads, crochet cottons in all colors, and on and on- WoW! But, the threads that are the same as I can get here (DMC floss for example), are much more expensive there. Here, I spend .39 a skein, in Paris it was consistently 1.30 euro. So, I didn’t buy any threads. I enjoyed looking at all the beautiful linens to use for embroidery- every store had a great selection.  I thought this shop– Des Fils et une Aiguille- had some very pretty finished pieces on display-a tree design stuck in my memory- but maybe it was that they were displayed well and I noticed them more!

I spent some time in the fabric block in Montmarte. That was great fun! First stop, Marche Saint- Pierre, six floors of fabrics. Next, Moline, where I bought some wonderful dotted netting on one side of the street and a bit of toile in their shop on the other side.

The other big store is Tissus Reine, another multi-storied fabric paradise. This store had a table of Liberty fabric (at 22 euro a meter) and I looked it all over but none of it needed to come home with me. There were a number of other stores that had cuts of fabrics, folded and stacked, apparently individually priced. These stores were a mystery to me while I was in the neighborhood though- it was only when I read about them on another blog that I understood how you were suppose to buy anything. The idea of messing up the stacks by pulling out the fabric to check the prices- no way would I be willing to do that! They have wonderful fabrics in all of these stores- not just fabric for quilting or home decorating. Although I didn’t buy much, I enjoyed my morning of eye candy. And, I enjoyed watching what other people were buying.

I did find some Liberty fabric at Entree des Fournisseurs that it turned out I need. And a little bit of something else too. I think the Liberty fabric was 20 euro a meter (25 euro on their website), which seemed like a good price, considering the current exchange rate.

The bottom piece is very wide and I am considering making a shirt with it. They had some very cute childrens clothing samples on display, some Japanese craft pattern books, adorable kids clothing patterns and this very sweet clothesline with doll clothes-

I asked if it was alright to take a photo and the answer was no. I explained (as well as I could considering the language barrier) that I had a blog about dolls and I wanted a photo of the doll clothes. I showed her my Moo cards and let her pick one… and she conceded. Just one photo. I don’t get it. What is the problem with pictures? I wonder what they are worried about. Anyway though, this is a charming store and well worth my visit.

My last purchase was felt-

It is thick (but not dense), slightly rough textured and has a handmade feel to it. It is different enough from standard felt that I think it will be fun to play with. I got it at Pain D’epices, which specializes in everything for dollhouses, but upstairs has supplies for teddy bear making, needle felting, and this felt.

That is all from me, but here is a list of some other helpful posts about Paris shopping from other blogs.

Townhouse from May 2010

Sew Stylish from February 2007, but still useful.

Kitty Couture, whose use of the word SEX for Stash Enhancement Experience made me laugh out loud!

and the fabric

I started out with a clear picture of what I wanted and “needed” (ha ha!)

I bought a variety of stripes.

And then I got distracted- fabric sensory overload! Who could resist???

paper dolls-

red ridinghood-

it was the embroidery on this one that drew me in-

don’t ask me what I will do with this- I just couldn’t leave without it!

The red and white polka dots probably fall into the sensible purchase category. The other 2, 60s/70s graphics, not so much.

and there is more, but these are the highlights. Some fabrics were in bags where there was something I couldn’t resist and other bits that I am not interested in. So, it might be a good thing if next year I had my OWN table at fabric-a-brac!

On an entirely different subject, I listened to this podcast on RadioLab about face blindness. I fond it fascinating, especially how these 2 intelligent and successful men have dealt with their disability in completely different ways. I think the discussion would be interesting for anyone who deals with learning disabilities and/or the people with them.

trip to NY

Ben and I went down to NY on the Megabus.  Wifi, a table- I swear, the light was better then in my studio. I’d prepared some projects to work on during the way down (about 4 hours). Coming home was crowded and we didn’t get the table, but really, it is a very relaxing way to get to NY.

I went to an opening party at the new Purl location. Yes, it is amazing.

The display window-

The felt- love it!

btw- they have bolts of felt at the store if you are looking for larger amounts.

Color is all at Purl. It is intoxicating. Even the refreshments were beautiful!

Going back to the hotel- all the lights at night-

We stayed down by Wall Street and the hole in the ground that was the World Trade Center. This promenade was just a few blocks from the hotel. Lovely. The weather was perfect which I must say is a unique experience for me in NY- usually we are there in pouring rain, no matter what the season!

On Friday we went to the Museum of the City of New York and saw a show of Chas Addams artwork.

But really, let’s get back to the party. I met Heather Ross (yes, I gushed and told her I was a big fan),  Liesl and Tamar Mogendorff. Diana Eng was there but I didn’t have a chance embarrass myself with her- I would have told her that I stopped watching Project Runway after they bumped her… but probably, that would have been weird. There was a big crowd and I can’t even say how thrilled I was to be there.

Tomorrow I will post some crafty aspects of the trip, but that’s enough for now.

more photos

I went out to my favorite local cemetery which happens to border on some woods, and took more photos today.

This one looks like a Christmas card family picture. You’d think that since the dolls can’t get up and run away, it would be easy to get a decent photo. No way! I spent so much time arranging and rearranging and took loads of pictures to get one I liked.

I took this one in my studio on Friday-

Before the cemetery, I went into Boston to buy some 2mm felt from FilzFelt. I’ve got an idea I need to try out.

Delicious colors and all wool!

*update- all the forest girls are in my etsy shop now*

New York trip report

We had a great trip- short but I managed to get everything done that I really wanted to do and ignored what I sort of wanted to do. Long post ahead…

It was pouring rain on Tuesday- we seem to specialize in that weather when we visit NYC. Wednesday was foggy and drizzly and actually very photogenic. I’ll post more ny photos in a separate post.

I went to the Jane Austen show at the Morgan. I had read some reviews of it and was therefore not at all disappointed with how little there actually was. It was amazing to see the neat handwriting, read her words, see her scratched out and messy draft of a manuscripts. Little windows from 200 years ago. I am glad I got a chance to go.

When I finished at 37th St., I walked over to the Fashion District. I stopped into Tinsel Trading for a while, enjoying all the goodies and especially all the containers they put those goodies into- old file drawers, book shelves, thread racks- eye candy, everywhere I looked! Then onto M & J Trimming for some more notions overload. Everything is so delicious. You might find this hard to believe but I bought NOTHING! I went into both of the stores having decided that I would wander around and only consider something that jumped out at me, I was sure I didn’t already have, and I couldn’t get locally. So, nothing.

I continued downtown toward SoHo, on foot and by bus. By the time I got to Purl, I was in desperate need of a sit-down, a cup of coffee and a cookie. Luckily, they have those on Sullivan St.  Sometime a cookie can be a lifesaver or at least it seemed that way at the time!

I knew what I wanted at Purl- more of this Valdani embroidery thread. My new colors (including variegated- swoon!) will soon be put away with the rest of the embroidery threads.

But wait *Look what they just got in*

That is ALL silk embroidery thread!!! I couldn’t let myself go there- maybe next time. *Update- HERE is the link.*

Wednesday morning was spent back in the Fashion district- it is just so much fun to window shop. I spent some time at Mood Fabrics– I just had to see it live after watching all those Project Runways. There was a gaggle (giggle?) of little girls doing a class project while we were there- so entertaining to see a kindergarten class learning about fabric.

And then to Brooklyn and lunch at Etsy. So Amazing! I met up with Tara who did the Handmade Portrait last year. I got to meet everybody including- who knew- the Etsy dog! I think they told me her name is Dot… but I’m very bad at names so I might be wrong…

I got to see the quilt that my friend Kiki of All the Numbers was part of. Gorgeous!

There is so much energy, such a buzz at Etsy. The new office is beautiful. I left feeling very good about the direction things are going. Full steam ahead!

Now, onto the weekend and my next tiny world workshop. I’ve got to pack up some orders and go to the post office, clean the house and make my samples and here I am on the sofa… yes, time to get on that.

making a list

One of the people who will be taking my tiny world workshop is traveling from out of town. She asked me for recommendations for “can’t miss” crafting related places- for shopping and for inspiration- in the New England area. I have some places that I’ve been to and like, but I thought I would do a general shout out and then organize and make a page with all of your suggestions too. If you know of fun, inspiring, off-beat, esoteric or whatever places in NE, add them to the comments. Thanks!

I did a quick look through my postings that were in the resources category and came up with these-

Vintage and Antique Textiles in Sturbridge, MA. Unfortunately the Wright Factory Outlet has closed.

The Fiber Studio in Henniker, NH

The Dorr Mill Store in Newport, NH (Yikes, they are having a Columbus Day Weekend Sale!)

Camp Wool in Wells, Maine

Whispering Hill Farm in South Woodstock, CT

and here is a list with some suggestions. (I haven’t been to most of these places)