Archive for March 2011

March Is…

March is National Craft Month, apparently (who makes these things official?) which is serendipitous since it’s always been MY craft month being my birthday month. It’s not that my birthday is special at this point in my life, but hey, what good is a birthday if it’s not a good excuse to do something nice for myself so… I got for myself this box to organize my embroidery floss in!! It’s actually a vintage slide organizer, but it’s completely perfect for my purpose and I’m so very happy with it!!!

My mom sent me a package a short while ago and in it was this cutest little box of chocolates. I’ve seen many beautiful chocolates, but I totally adore these! Japan isn’t known for chocolates specifically, but like every thing else from there, it’s very yummy. I’ve been missing Japan lately.

Also in the package were some Japanese craft books (quilting, jewelry making, sewing by hand…) and I read quite carefully on bits about hand quilting technique. As it turns out, technique is important because my quilting stitches are getting better already (though much improvement is still desired) and I can do them a lot more comfortably and faster too. Who knew that thimbles are actually useful!

Really big pale pink stitches are basting threads (it’s temporarily keeping together top fabric, batting and bottom fabric) which will be taken out at the end. My mom also sent me these from Japan. There isn’t such a thing as “basting thread” in US apparently, even though it’s such a necessary item in sewing! Basically it’s a cotton thread that rips out really easily. I think that it’s far easier to handle then having million pins in my WIPs.

Stitching and Needles

Like many other people who’ve gotten into needlework in recent years, my gateway into embroidery was Sublime Stitching. It’s been years now since I first encountered it (I mean how can you resist those designs — so cute!), and I’m glad to say this craft has stuck around in my life! There are many reason why I’ve been enjoying embroidery but some of the main ones are that 1) there’s long long history that spans many cultures of designing with needles & thread which is completely fascinating 2) endless stitches and technique to learn 3) it’s really quite cheap 4) all the variety of colors and color combinations makes me happy and 5) it’s  meditative and relaxing. The reason #3 though, I’ve been finding to be very true for most part but lately I’m seeing glimpses of how it can turn into an expensive venture (I’d looove to try stitching with silk thread from France or attempt goldwork at some point!). Anyhow, I’ve finally stitched up the first ever pattern I’ve ever purchased. The reason why I hadn’t done this famous little angel (you can find many versions of it stitched up online!) is because it seemed to me that Stem Stitch is the most logical stitch for it, and I’m really bad at it despite that it’s one of the most basic stitch. …So I figured I’d practice on it  on this pattern. I think I get the hang of it now! I also experimented with lightly shading the outlined area using various stitches.

I found these vintage (unused) needles lately and they are so completely fabulous!

They are noticeably sharper compared to the modern variety and the eye of the needles are smoother which makes it a whole lot easier to make knots with.

Anyhow I love the packaging! I wonder at which point in history companies decided that beautiful packaging was superfluous  part of their product…

Hand Stitching

I asked my mom to show me basic patch working and quilting while she was here last October. We ran through all the basics then, but I hadn’t had chance to see if I can actually do this on my own. …So here’s my first try!

It’s entirely hand stitched. In fact, one of the reason why I wanted to take up small patchwork/quilt project is to improve my hand stitching skills. I think that expertly done hand stitching is far more beautiful than expertly done machine stitching. Though the catch is that mediocre hand stitching is far less acceptable than mediocre machine stitching. I have a long way to go!

Oh, and if you wondered what it is, its a coaster (or mug rug or whatever you call it!). It was the smallest item I could think of to make.

It’s made of happy colors, a contrast to sense of gloom I inevitably feel for consequences of the disastrous earthquake in Japan. I’ve chosen not to follow up on it too carefully in news (because it makes me feel depressed which is completely useless when all my friends over there are trying their best to stay positive), aside from checking in on my friends over there to see that they are doing okay. I can’t even imagine what its like to not have food in Japan — in Japan!

 

100% Chance of Rain

Shortly after we arrived Sauvie Island, I gasped because I saw a huge rainbow through our car window. (Todd took this photo, just so you know!)

The forecast told us “rain” so we weren’t expecting to walk around. But the weather turned out so lovely that we stopped by the creepy “country store” to buy the wildlife area parking permit…

…and decided to go for a walk. It was quite warm out actually. And not raining at all, not *here* anyways.

There are many beautiful places in Oregon, some of which we’ve been to, and many more we have yet to explore. But we really like Sauvie Island — somehow we feel more “alive” every time we are there, and come out of it feeling more grounded. Besides, it’s only 20-30 minute drive from where we live.

Just a few months ago, I wondered what my [not so little anymore] family would look like as a family of 5. It’s a strange thing how it feels like Lucian has been with us forever already.

Spontaneous excursion with unexpectedly perfect weather makes a very special Saturday!

Spring, Hopefully

I made a necklace which I imagined would be perfect for almost spring days that are still chilly. I’ve crochet the chain and the flower, added brassy chain, vintage buttons, key and tied a bow with scrap fabric.

It’s a bit Anthropologie-inspired, which is a description I’ve been seeing quite a lot in crafty-world lately. It’s s curious thing, how a brand becomes an adjective for a style! I’ve loved Anthropologie, ever since the first time I happen to walk into it in Boston during my undergrad years, and have thought many times I’d love to live inside their fabulously decorated retail space. At the moment though, I can’t justify their price tag (especially for their accessories!) for such a (beautiful but…) fragile items in the context of my daily life. …So here’s one I don’t mind grabbed with sticky hands or spat-up on.

Me Time

We’ve been really busy around here (we’ll show you what we’ve been up to in a bit!) and when we do take a small break, it’s usually for the kids… Which means “ME” time for me got a bit pushed aside. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a very happy stay-at-home mom and grateful that I get to spend entire day with my kids. But as much as they are completely fabulous human beings, they are NOISY — it’s nice to have just a bit of silence where I don’t have to mind anyone but myself. We aren’t any less busy now, but none of us can afford to have a loony mom/spouse …so 2 hours just for me, hopefully more or less on weekly basis (we used to do this before we got really really busy, and it does wonders for my entire rest of the week!). This evening, I went to a bookstore and had a cup of coffee while browsing jewelry design and knitting books and magazines.

Todd said that they had a really good sushi time WITHOUT me! I think that Immi and Ashland really enjoy having some daddy-time.