Giveaway: Caran D’Ache Gouache Paint Set [CLOSED]

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I find it interesting (and disconcerting) that household matters start to nosedive in clumps. Within a ridiculously short period, our oven firecracker-ed and died (so scary), our bath tub drain stopped up, our faucet water turned a stomach-turning shade of brown. I could go on, but the onslaught has been punishing. My poor mom, she arrived from Los Angeles yesterday to a fully dysfunctional house.

It’s as though the house elves are taunting, “Take that!! Can you handle this??”

Luckily, the drama has been fairly short-lived, and we have a new electric range, the second bottle of Drano solved the tub issue (sorry environment), and the city inspector just notified me that there had been some fire hydrant testing going on which caused the iron ore and sediments to stir up in the pipe mains. The water is a less offensive beige now, and should start clearing up in a little bit.

When I start to feel defeated by outer circumstances that I can’t control, it seems counterintuitive but I like to give things away. I recently gifted a friend a set of watercolor paints, and it seemed to make her so happy, my mood soared by a thousand leagues.

That reminded me that I have this other set that I’ve been saving…for what, I don’t know, but it’s a beautiful gouache collection. I actually already have the very same set that I haven’t used up, so this was initially meant as back-up because I adore this brand so much and had this irrational fear that it might get discontinued. However, it’s clear to me that it’s going to end up sitting in my paint cabinet for years to come, so I want to offer it up as a giveaway.

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This Caran D’Ache set is what I started painting with when I first decided to get back into all the “creative” activities I let fall to the wayside while I was working full-time. With the impending launch of Sewing Happiness, I’ve been thinking back to that time a lot. Remember how I was so affected by the negative review on Amazon? As if to make me feel extra relieved, I found out that the book got a starred rating from Library Journal and the review was so kind and uplifting, I was smiling for hours.

I used these paints here and here and here. Good times.

Anyway, would anyone like some gouache paint? It’s great for kids as well, and the colors are incredibly rich and vibrant. As per usual, any comment would do, but I’d be keen to know if there’s some sort of previously loved activity that you’ve let fall to the wayside that you’d like to pick up again. My intention isn’t to make you feel guilty about it, but to (I hope) remind you how much you enjoyed it.

I’ll leave the giveaway open until the end of next week — let’s say April 14th. I’ll announce the winner the next day and international entries are always awesome. Good luck!

Giveaway: Japanese Quilting Book [CLOSED]

giveaway-japanesequilting1 I translated a Japanese quilting book last year, and I don’t know when it’s coming out, but this book you see above is not it. It was a reference book for me since I’m not much of a quilter, and what a visual feast of neutral tones! I learned so much through perusing this serene pattern book. Japanese Quilting Piece by Piece by Yoko Saito is a calming collection of quilted projects, some of which are incredibly elaborate.

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There’s a good dose of wabi-sabi here, with the occasional unexpected whimsy (the animals made me smile and who would have expected a hooked rug bag?):

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The 29 projects are mostly bags or bag-like items with a few actual quilts thrown in. As much as I love the beauty of the photography and admire the projects themselves, I know myself: I am not a quilter. At least not at this moment. I think someone else would get so much more out of this book, so I would love to give it away.

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As I dive headlong into launching my second book, I’m very curious to see how it will do since it’s intensely personal — to avoid getting caught up in the responses (positive or negative), I’ve been coming up with small celebrations meant just for myself: enjoying cups of really nice tea, indulging in a pretty-smelling candle, permission to just sit and relax and read on a Tuesday afternoon. If interested in entering the giveaway (international entries welcome!), any comment will do as usual, but what are small ways that you add some fun or celebratory indulgence in your life? I’ll keep the giveaway open until next Thursday, March 24th and will announce the winner the next day. Good luck!

P.S. Furoku members: part 2 of #12 has shipped!!

Sashiko Kit Giveaway! [CLOSED]

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You, my dear friends, are getting the benefit of all this cleaning/purging/mending/organizing craziness that’s going on around here. I’ve been sorting through my props pile, and came across some lovely Sashiko related items and since I have duplicates of nearly everything, I wanted to offer them up as a giveaway.

The image above is an outtake from my upcoming book, Sewing Happiness. I have a Sashiko section that I included, and though this particular image didn’t make the cut, I like it a lot. The confection you see up there is a sakura mochi — a sweet treat made out of pink sticky rice filled with red bean paste, wrapped in a pickled cherry blossom leaf. I realize it doesn’t sound sweet from that description, but it is. Very sweet. So yummy. With the explosion of cherry blossoms happening in Seattle right now, it seems like an appropriate image to include.

Also, because I didn’t want to take any of the items out of the wrapping, the image of the actual giveaway items leave something to be desired and I wanted something prettier headlining the post. But the items themselves are awesome.

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We have:

An Olympus indigo cotton with Sashiko markings for the Juuji-Tsunagi pattern

Clover Sashiko needles

Two skeins of Sashiko thread

Interested? I hope so!

As for the giveaway question…well, feel free to leave any comment, but right now I’m in planning mode for marketing and have craft books on my mind so I’m curious to know which craft books are your favorites? I’ll leave the giveaway open until this Sunday, March 6th and will announce the winner on Monday! Open for international entries as always — good luck!

Merchant & Mills Rapid Repair Kit Giveaway! [CLOSED]

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One of my favorite things to do during the book process was prop shopping. I love me some good props. Being the way that I am, however, let’s just say that I didn’t hold back and now I have a mountain of charming, photogenic items taking up a whole lotta space in my basement. Luckily, most of them are very small.

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Like this tiny Merchant & Mills Rapid Repair Kit. “FIRST AID FOR CLOTHES”, it promises, and this approximately 3.25″ wide x 2.75″ high metal box contains teeny scissors, thread (black + white), needles, pins, a couple of buttons, safety pins and a tape measure.

I mean, really. How can you not love this? Since I have an extra kit, I thought it might be fun to offer it up as a giveaway. Perhaps you too have a soft spot for all things miniature and industrial chic?

To enter the giveaway, any comment would do, but I’ve been thinking about how I schlumped and dragged and resisted making the jeans when in reality, it was completely doable and enjoyable. Now I want to make 10 pairs. There are so many things that I do that with, big and small. Do you have a project or projects like that? Something that feels beyond your capabilities or too much work or just plain hard, but you know that if you took that very first step and saw it through to completion, you’ll be so excited and will find yourself proudly telling the mailman that you just completed your first pair of jeans? Okay, I didn’t tell the mailman, but I came close. Now that I’m feeling more comfortable with jeans-making, I’m noticing that I still feel that way about grown-up sized coats and in the non-sewing realm, entertaining — I’m quite intimidated by the idea of hosting dinner parties, though I have no problems having friends over for tea/coffee with snacks or even casual impromptu dinners (our neighbors come over for dinner all the time). There’s something about the “dinner party” that raises the bar and stresses me out. There’s a list about 15 miles long with additional stuff, but those are the two that came to mind first. And you?

I’ll keep the giveaway open until this Friday, January 22nd and will announce the winner on Monday. International entries are, of course, lovely. Good luck!

Faux Fur Infinity Scarf + Giveaway [CLOSED]

 

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Well now. Ute and I are simply blown away by the enthusiastic response to the Secret Valentine Exchange!! It’s been so enthusiastic that my server crashed a number of times last week. It’s true that I have a wimpy, tiny server, but still. I also think there’s something problematic about multiple people trying to fill out the form simultaneously, but that’s an uneducated guess on my part. We’re approaching 130 sign-ups!! If you were one of the folks who couldn’t access the form to sign up, please email secret.valentine.exchange@gmail.com and we’ll send you the form directly. Quick reminder: the deadline is this Wednesday, January 13th!

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Today, though, I’m talking more faux fur. There’s a pint-sized fabric store near my house called District Fabrics, and during the holidays they sold these infinity scarf kits. For $10, the kit comes with a 19″ x 30″ faux fur piece, a spool of coordinating thread and instructions. I thought it was a decent deal and a good idea, particularly for a little someone obsessed with all things wild and animalistic in my household. Plus, I’d just seen something similar in Anthropologie, so it was totally on trend (not that we’re ever on trend or ever feel the need to be).

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I didn’t get around to sewing it up in time for Christmas, but I did find a few minutes to bang it out this weekend. So fast! It was done within 15 minutes, and then I realized I didn’t follow the instructions because I’ve made so many infinity scarves. Instead of sewing the ends right sides together, leaving an opening and hand stitching the opening closed, the instructions call for finishing one end of the tube, slipping the other end in and sewing through all four layers with the right side facing out. I guess that part would end up at the nape of the neck so the flattened section won’t show, but I’m glad I did it my way for the overall fluffiness.

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K decided that she would create a special ensemble – a faux-furnanza, if you will —  and I’ve dubbed her “mini sasquatch”. Actually, with the ear muffs she looks like the love child of Princess Leia and Chewbacca (yes, we’ve seen the Star Wars movie that just came out).

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And here she is, playing the part of an infirm Victorian poet with a furry ascot — or is it a cravat?? She’s engrossed in a game of Mancala (an African game with which she’s obsessed).

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There’s a little twist to the front of the scarf, which I like, and because of the thicker material, it’s a simple circle scarf, meaning it doesn’t loop twice like most infinity scarves.

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At any rate, after sewing the vest, the trim on the jacket, and now a scarf, I’m all faux furred out. I have an extra kit, but I can’t bring myself to sew it. Would anyone like it? This one is a lighter shade of brown, sort of chestnutty or squirrel-colored. Even if you don’t end up using it as a scarf, there’s plenty there to make at least one side of a pillow cover, which happens to be all the rage right now — something that mystifies me. Or you could add a fur trim to a garment. So many possibilities.

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It seems like I should ask a New Year’s Resolution type of question, but I’m going to turn it on its head a bit: what worked for you last year that you want to continue? So often it seems like we try to change when we flip the calendar to January 1st. But there are so many things that we already do right and well and I’m a firm believer that those things ought to be acknowledged. Last year I met with at least one friend a week for coffee or some sort of get together, and it was so uplifting and wonderful, it’s something I’m very conscientious about continuing this year. Another funny little thing that worked for me last year was getting rid of the word “busy” from my vocabulary. Whenever people would ask me how I’m doing, my automatic response used to be, “Good, but so busy!” I can’t remember where I heard or read it, but I came across the term “glorification of busy” and how it’s become so normal in our society and is essentially a humble brag or a way to feel important. So I experimented with not saying that I’m busy for the whole year. And you know what? It was awesome! I felt like I was less in default mode and it forced me to pause to think about how I’m really doing and what I’m spending my time on. I’m going to keep up this habit of not saying I’m busy for sure. What about you?

I’ll leave the giveaway open until this Friday, January 15th and will announce the winner on Monday. Entries from around the globe are welcome. I hope someone’s interested – I’ve had enough of faux fur for the time being!

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