Destashival + Big Announcement

Hello, my friends! I apologize for the not-so-pretty photo, which was taken in the dim lighting of my basement a few months ago. This is the crazy fabric/yarn stash situation that’s been assaulting my conscience for years. Bear in mind that this is only about half of what I actually own. The yarn sitch isn’t awful; it’s just that one bin in the top row. But the fabrics!!!!!

Luckily, I have a solution.

It’s to pretend that my stash is as soothing and contained as it is in this photo. Denial can be a beautiful thing. No, that’s not it.

The solution is more involved. My dear, dear friends — I’m working on another sewing book. Actually, I’m working on two sewing books!!!!! One is due out in 2020 and the other one will be released 2021. As is the case with books, I can’t say a whole lot about them at this time since I’m smack dab in the middle of it all, but they will perhaps help with the stash problemo.

I’m calling the process my “destashival”, which is an amalgamation of destash and festival. A celebration of destashing! Thank goodness I have an exorbitant amount of supplies at the ready for these upcoming books.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been steadily purging all of my belongings to get closer to something that resembles minimalism, but these fabric-stuffed bins have been throwing a wrench in my whole scheme (not to mention art supplies, and books, and skincare, and teas — but we’ll discuss those later). For the next several months, I’m going to jubilantly sew samples for my books and tackle the many, many other sewing patterns I’ve been holding off on (I just posted on Instagram the dolman sleeve top that’s near completion).

Now, with my destashival in full swing, I’ll be able to show you an empty wall in…I don’t know…a year? D’you think I can do it?

I realize that this announcement is somewhat lacking in fanfare but my insides are full of fanfare and sparklers and massive fireworks. I feel so outrageously, profoundly lucky that I get to do this. Could I have predicted that I would be working on my fifth and sixth book in 2018? Nope. Nuh-uh. No way. One always hopes that opportunities are ever-flowing, of course, but there are no guarantees. It boils down to you and this little blog in many ways. Thank you for visiting even when my posts are sporadic, thank you for buying my books or checking them out from the library, thank you for encouraging me through the Furoku membership (where I talk about all the behind-the-scenes stuff), thank you for all your comments here and on Instagram, and thank you for all the virtual good vibes. I am rendered speechless by the immensity of my gratitude.

Alright, back to book-making shenanigans. Have an awesome weekend, all! I hope this autumn season is treating you well and that you’re gearing up for a spectacular Thanksgiving!

P.S. I’ll be at Queen Anne Book Company next Saturday, November 24th around 1pm as part of Indies First! It’ll be fun!

Black & White: Linden Loves + Making Magazine no. 6

Happy Friday! I’ve had an unusually social couple of weeks with more events on the horizon, which means I can really feel the tug of my inner introvert imploring me to hibernate and recharge. Getting out and about is good for me, I must say, and last week I made a couple of Grainline Studio Linden tops that happened to match one of the events I attended this past Monday: Making Magazine’s Black & White trunk show at Drygoods Design.

You know, as someone who spends a lot of time alone squirreled away working on projects that don’t see the light of day for months on end, I often forget how scintillating it is to connect with people in real life. Online communication has its place and is a wondrous thing, but nothing beats a face-to-face conversation. I’ve been working with Carrie, Ashley, Cecily, Whitney and Lily of Making for over a year now but this was the first time we met in the flesh (ew, why does that sound so gross?). It’s such an uplifting feeling to discover that someone’s online persona perfectly matches the in-person personality. They are down-to-earth, easy to talk to, brimming with creativity and ideas and are just all-around wonderful. I had such a lovely time with them all! If you haven’t already, I highly encourage you to listen to the first episode of the Making podcast to learn more about Carrie and Ashley. They are so, so inspiring! And I’ve been shy about mentioning it, but I was interviewed a while back as well. You can find that podcast episode here.

Anyway, so caught up was I in blathering away, I forgot to snap photos, but I was excited to see that my little contribution to the Black & White issue was included in the trunk show. I made these guys:

Photo by Carrie Bostick Hoge

They’re felted animal masks! And how stunning is this magazine cover by the awe-inducing Lisa Congdon??

I also had the privilege of meeting Sonya Phillips of 100 Acts of Sewing, who was teaching a class towards the end of the trunk show and that was a major treat too. She’s the real deal, folks. There’s an abundance of joy in her creations. Another all too brief encounter was with Kristin of Woolfolk Yarn. Oh my goodness, have you seen her website and Instagram feed? Pure gorgeousness. Kristin listened to my knitting woes and sagely assured me that I was ready, that I can absolutely knit. She has such a grounded, beautiful presence. My only wish was that I could have stayed longer to chat more with everyone.

The intrepid women of Making and Jen of Grainline Studio often collaborate together so it was doubly fitting that I wore a Linden top to the event. I chose the polka dot one, of course. Other than adding 2 inches to the bodice length, I didn’t make any changes to the pattern for this version. It’s a straight up size 6. I love the Linden so much. So quick, so easy, so versatile! I’ve made a gaggle of them in the past, and I’ve gotten over my former reluctance about sewing the same pattern over and over. There’s something very comforting about a familiar pattern.

For this black wool version, I tried out Jen’s tutorial for a flat bias neckline. However, I had already cut out the neckband as per pattern instructions, not on the bias — which I don’t think should have made too much of a difference for this stretchy wool knit — and for some reason, my neckline got very wavy. I don’t mind the waviness, though I’m sort of confused by this super awkward pose in the photo. What am I doing? I included it to remind myself that I’m ridiculous in so many ways. I made a few other changes to the pattern with this version: shaved off an inch for each sleeve and slimmed the bodice by about an inch as well. And I always add at least 2 inches to the bodice of any top pattern to account for my extra long torso. This wool feels luxurious, and I’m pretty sure I got it from Drygoods but for the life of me, I can’t remember where I got the polka dot sweater knit from. I adore this black top despite the less than perfect neckline (see the wavy bits below?). Nothin’ a good scarf can’t hide. That I will knit one day.

There’s not a lot to be said for the back view, but here it is:

As long as I’m mentioning patterns that I keep sewing repeatedly, I’m wearing my 5th pair of Ginger skinny jeans that I never blogged about. The thing with these jeans is that the denim doesn’t have a lot of stretch so they aren’t my most comfortable pair. They look pretty good though, don’t you think?

And there you have it. Lindens, crafty folks, connections, repetitive sewing.

Okay! I’m doing a school presentation this afternoon and then I’ll be participating in the Ballard Art Walk at Secret Garden Books on Saturday, November 10th, so come on by if you’ve got a few spare moments from 6-8pm. I’ll have some original illustrations from my books on display and will be doing some custom illustrations too!

I’m off to prepare for these two events and then I’ll be back to my solitary schedule for a few weeks. Ahhhhhh…that sounds nice.

I hope you have a delightful weekend in every way, my friends!

2018 Halloween: K the Kat

Happy Friday! Halloween twenty-eighteen was a good one. A very good one. K hosted a little pre-trick-or-treating gathering at our house for a group of her friends and much jollyness ensued.

See that lumpy tunic that human-as-cat K is wearing? I made that. Despite swearing up and down that I wasn’t going to make a Halloween costume this year, I found myself cutting out fabric two days before Hallow’s Eve.

The reason I was anti-handmade costume is because I finally learned from previous years that I always have deadlines during the last week of October and I can’t seem to get my act together enough to have my work done in time to stitch up a proper costume.

Feeling very comfortable with my decision, I asked K what she wanted to be for Halloween. “A cat,” came the obvious answer. So I went to Goodwill and found a cute headband with ears for a dollar and figured I was done. All she would need is a black top and leggings, I reasoned. K was aghast when she heard about my Halloween costume suggestion. “Will you at least buy me a costume that’s furry?”

So back to Goodwill I went, but came up empty. Then I went to Fred Meyer’s, the Target-like PNW store that’s a mecca for cheap costumes during this season. Again, nothing. I went to the local consignment store. Nada. There were a ton of unicorns and Marvel comic characters and a few princess outfits and capes, but nowhere could I find a furry, fluffy, feline-esque costume (I should note that I couldn’t find one in her size or one that wasn’t of the sexy variety).

I got home after my unsuccessful shopping attempts and there, in one of my fabric baskets nestled a decent amount of black and light grey minky fabric pieces looking oh-so-fluffy. I sighed.

It took me 2 1/2 hours to trace one of K’s tops, cut out the pieces, shape a tail, attach the light grey oval for the belly and sew the whole thing up. Turned out to be roughly the same amount of time I spent scouring the various stores. It was meant to be, because I had just enough of the the black fabric. Oh, the sleeves were a little too tight initially so I had to add some funky gussets with knit fabric, but that didn’t take too long and looked discreet (should have gotten a photo!).

K LOVED the costume and practically skipped to school in it (we took these photos the day before Halloween and for the actual day, I upgraded the felt nose and painted a nose and whiskers with make-up). Even though I was a Halloween grinch at first, I’m now so glad I took the time to make this wonky little costume. Both my sweet K’s agree:

And hey, I was able to meet my deadlines so it all worked out.

Do you feel it in the air too? The holiday season is looming large and the upcoming weeks are already starting to look full and festive. Speaking of festive, I’ll be at Drygoods Design on Monday, November 5th with the Making Magazine lovelies if you’re in the ‘hood! 5-7pm! With the extraordinary Sonya Phillips and Woolfolk Yarn!!

I’m off to go relax! Have a wonderful weekend, friends!!

Rumi + Toaster = Roaster Sweater Tunic Thingie

I did it! I figured out the tripod/wireless remote situation with my new camera and new photo wall! I just realized that all my shots are a little crooked but I’m out of practice with this whole selfie thing, so let’s take it slow and easy. The new camera was a reluctant purchase. I managed to somehow drop and break both my nice Canon and back-up Canon cameras a few months ago (sob!) and after lamenting the losses, I decided to take this opportunity to try out an Olympus mirrorless camera. I have to say, I’m lovin’ it because it’s so compact yet takes sharp, lovely photos.

Here I am, testing out the remote. I have about 7 jillion blurry photos of me from this single test.

Anyway! Like I’ve mentioned, I’ve been sewing.

This here is a hybrid of sorts of the Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater and the Cali Faye Rumi Pullover. The fabric is a polyester/cotton blend (well, I’m pretty sure it’s polyester/cotton, but don’t quote me on it) that I purchased years and years ago. I bought this with a vision of a roomy, cozy, cocoon-y turtleneck sweater and spent eons searching for a pattern with no luck. I was on the verge of just self-drafting a pattern when I remembered how much I love wearing my Rumi Pullover. The Rumi is very roomy (maybe that’s why it’s named that way?). But it is not a turtleneck. Luckily, I had stored the Toaster Sweater pattern with the Rumi pattern, so I figured it was kismet and I could just double the height of the neck piece and call it a day. It worked!

The other modification I made was to slim down the silhouette of the bodice a touch and tapered the hem for a subtle cocoon shape. I also added 5” to the length and reduced the front neckline about an inch to accommodate the turtleneck piece.

I loooooooooooooove it. It’s exactly what I had in mind. I could eat buckets of roasted chestnuts and drink gallons of hot cocoa and no one will ever notice my expanding waist. My kind of sweater! I’m calling it my Roaster sweater. Or maybe Tumi is better?  I’ve paired it with my favorite Ginger Skinny Jeans by Closet Case Patterns; this pair is in constant rotation and they’re holding up spectacularly.

There’s a lot of grey going on here, including my hair. I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I stopped coloring my hair about a year ago. It was — much to my utter shock — one of the most life-altering experiences I’ve had. I was SO self-conscious, it was nuts-o. As my roots grew out, I felt increasingly insecure and couldn’t figure out why I was making such a big deal about it. It was adolescence all over again! It took a good six months for me to get accustomed to the grey. I know that it’s a little tricky to see all of my silvery strands in these photos, but trust me, they’re abundant. The funny thing is, I love the grey/silver now. It is, after all, my favorite color and the way my hair sparkles and shimmers in the light is pretty awesome. And just plain pretty, I believe. The other day I saw a stunningly beautiful woman with silver locks and I was so inspired. If I can look half as chic as she did when I go fully grey, I’d be golden…or, uh, silver in this case. Though I miss my wonderful hair stylist who not only made me (artificially) feel youthful but also patiently listened to my dronings-on, the upsides of going naturally grey are innumerable. I don’t have to deal with stained pillowcases, I’m not shelling out $$$, I’ve reclaimed the time spent sitting in the salon chair, etc. etc. These days I can’t imagine going back to coloring my hair.

Oh, I’ve missed blogging. I derive so much pleasure from just sharing my thoughts and things I’m working on or playing/experimenting with in this random, carefree way. It feels so good to be typing this little post up. There are many, many exciting things happening behind the scenes, which is a major part of why I’ve had to put some of my favorite pastimes on the back burner. Maybe I’m being too optimistic and ambitious, but after pondering various options, I think I’ve come up with a fun way to incorporate everything I want to do. I have some news and more sewing that I’ll share over the next few weeks along with a personal project that’s been brewing in my mind for…oh…years.

Alright my friends, it’s time for me to get more sewing done. I hope you have a cozy, Roaster sweater-y type of weekend (if you’re in a cooler climate range, that is) and just an all-round good time!

 

 

 

 

New Sewing Set-Up

Hello, hello! Now that Ba-chan, The Ninja Grandma has officially launched, I am sewing like a fiend.

You may or may not know that I sew in my bedroom. In our sweet little townhouse, we have a disproportionately huge master bedroom and though I love me some airy minimalism, it seemed a shame to let all that space go to waste. I’ve carved out a little corner as my “atelier” and for the last 6 or so years, this has been working out pretty well. One of the downsides, however, was that I pushed one of those massive craft/cutting tables from Jo-Ann against the corner of the room and it wasn’t optimal in terms of functionality. I couldn’t really access every part of the table and dust collected at an alarming rate underneath all the bins and boxes I had crammed under it. Additionally, my ironing board was mostly an unsightly dumping ground and I was forever bumping into it.

This summer, after some extensive research I decided to ditch the craft table and ironing board. In their stead, I got this Sullivan’s Ironing Center to serve double duty as both cutting table and ironing station. Oh my goodness. I LOVE IT. It’s changed my life. It’s crazy heavy and I pulled a shoulder muscle lugging the box up the stairs to my room, but the manual labor involved — including the two hours it took me to build it — was totally worth it.

First of all, its slim profile takes up very little room, and the table top is collapsible to further diminish its size when not in use. The dimensions are 22”L x 59”W x 37”H when fully extended, and 22”L x 34”W x 37”H when collapsed.

Also: wheels. This baby is completely mobile, yet sturdy and stable. Such an awesome combination! I’ve been wanting to blog more about my sewing again, but without my trusty white living room wall with the beautifully diffused light cast by the adjacent window, I was at a loss. When we inherited our neighbor’s piano for K a couple of years ago, we shifted furniture around and a ginormous credenza now occupies the former photo wall. You wouldn’t think such a minor detail would derail my dedication to blogging, but it did. And yes, there were a few other extenuating circumstances that I’ll share in the near future, but now, at long last, I can scoot this table out of the way and I have a lovely expanse of pale grey wall with an adjacent window equipped with light-giving goodness. I still have to figure out the camera/tripod situation but that’ll happen soon!

The other major benefit of this ironing center is the built-in storage beneath. As you can see, my monster pattern binder fits easily in there along with other essential sewing accoutrements. LOVE.

Now, this table comes with an ironing pad, but I didn’t like how it looked and felt (oddly bunchy), so I got a smaller cutting mat and ironing pad. So far I’m liking this configuration, though I’m toying with the idea of getting the 59” wide cutting mat designed for this table and plopping the smaller ironing pad on top. We’ll see.

On a side note, the fabric scrap basket you see on the left was our laundry hamper in a former life, but it fits that space beneath the table so perfectly, I had to repurpose.

So what am I sewing? For starters, I’m making K some leggings that actually fit her. I tried a pair from New Look 6445 in size 10 and she’s drowning in them — I’m so confused. They unexpectedly fit me really well. I don’t know why the sizing runs so big; she’s a size 10 in other commercial patterns. I just might have to self-draft them. I’m also in desperate need for outerwear for myself. In a hasty flurry of summer purging, I got rid of all of my worn out winter coats. Which meant all of them. I was guided by the usual erroneous assumption: “I’ll just whip up a coat or two before winter is here.” Well, here we are in late October and I have yet to sew anything that will keep me toasty. In the meantime, I’ve raided M’s closet and am looking like a fleece-clad blowfish on most days. Or maybe I just look like a sheep.

How are you, my friends? What have you been up to? Are you making things? Are you happy with your creative space? It’s amazing how a few adjustments can increase my productivity level and enthusiasm a millionfold!

Okay, I’m off to sew, and I’m wishing you all a spectacular weekend!

P.S. I just finished reading Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk and it’s the most charming book I’ve come across in a long time. Highly recommended! For tweens, K recommends The Warden’s Daughter and Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli.