Obsessively designing

Hello, hello! How are you all doing? What a crazy time…I have no adequate words for what seems like ceaseless global upheaval. 

I find solace in making things when the world seems to be churning, and lately I’ve been having a love affair with designing patterns for wallpaper, stationery and fabric. I celebrated a dear friend’s birthday this weekend, and let me tell you — wrapping the presents with my own designs is incredibly gratifying. I’m getting more and more comfortable with what’s called “seamless repeats” and am challenging myself to more complicated patterns. I am drawn to simple designs too, though.

I’ve been diligently adding to my Spoonflower shop with new designs every week. I’ll be adding more items to my online shop this upcoming week as well and I’ve also been experimenting with making my own “mock-ups.” Mock-ups are easy ways to visualize what a design would look like on a product without actually sewing/producing said products. It’s all done digitally. For example, I created a mock-up of my Reversible Eco Bag pattern. You can see the same apricots pattern on the Eco Bag here:

And here are a few other versions I played with:

Fun, right? I designed the eco bag to accommodate different fabric combinations, but I often just like to simplify and cut the outer bag from a single piece of fabric as shown in the first three bag examples. I have so many strewn around my house and use them all the time.

The floral pattern shown in the first couple of images is my faborite so far and will be available soon. After I printed it out for the wrapping paper, I realized that I need to make a few more tweaks.

Anyway, today I just wanted to share this heightened devotion to puzzling out seamless patterns. It’s a good way to use my brain so I don’t worry so much about everything, you know?

I hope you are all staying safe and cozy and peaceful. Much love!

 

 

 

 

Quieting

I’ve become very good at ratcheting down the pace. I was using my phone to record a video a couple of weeks ago and when I played the video back, I discovered that I had accidentally hit the “Slo-Mo” button while filming. My life feels like it’s in perpetual slo-mo these days. I call it “quieting.” It’s kind of nice. I’ve even been tiptoeing into the ultimate quieting activity: knitting.

When I was a striving bundle of youth, I constantly sought out excitement and novelty. World travel! New jobs! Torrid romances! Actually, no, I was not so good at finding torrid romances. Valentine’s Day was a bane of my existence, and I often greeted it solo and yearning.

I’m halfway through my 50th year on this globe, and I’m fully ensconced in an almost obsessive dedication to doing exactly the same thing every day. I’ve always been a creature of habit (who isn’t?), but I’m taking it to new heights.

Every morning, I take a long walk. Then I paint and write purely for myself. Then I walk to a coffee shop and work on my latest book or whatever project happens to be on my to-do list for a few hours. Right now it’s dreaded tax paperwork. Then I head back home to eat a late lunch, give the cat a snack and take care of admin stuff or sew or knit. Then I do yoga and cook dinner and chat with my family. Then I tidy up, get ready for bed, and read (I’m currently devouring The Inheritance Games series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes — how does an associate professor with little kids pump out so many books??). 

I do have the occasional business meeting or social gathering or class to teach, and weekends don’t usually involve any work, but for the most part the above routine is what I adhere to day in and day out. It’s not glamorous or exciting — in fact, from the outside looking in, it probably seems extremely mundane and repetitive. I have to tell you, though, my days feel very “loamy” (a reviewer described The Inheritance Games with that word and I love it). Full of rich potential, ready to sprout and bloom ideas.

Lately, I’ve lost the yen to check Instagram, which seems to contribute to the sustained peace and quietude I’ve been experiencing. This dearth of desire to stay on top of digital connection is possibly career suicide for someone who wants to create books and many things for the big wide world, but I’m trusting my intuition that right now is a time to thoroughly inhabit this routinized schedule, to cultivate my fertile inner world. I feel like I’m channeling Cal Newport, he of the the Deep Work and anti social media proponent. I’m a big fan.

I will emerge from my social media hibernation eventually —  I have three books coming out this fall, and they’re not going to promote themselves. Until then, I’m savoring this insulated loaminess.

On a side note: The Secret Valentine Exchange will have to be laid to rest because shipping costs are skyrocketing. For example, I was recently quoted $150 to send an item to Australia. The shipping cost was 10 times the value of the item itself! Though I’m sad about that I do have something up my sleeve for Valentine’s Day that I’ve been working on for a while. More on that soon.

So, it’s been a slo-mo start to 2022 for me and I like it. How about you? How was your January? I hope all is well and that you’re all staying safe!

P.S. The image is part of a PDF I created for a Basic Sashiko Stitching class that I’ll be teaching on the Making App on February 18th at noon. It’s a laid back, easy class that I really enjoy teaching!

New Year’s Eve Thoughts

Happy almost 2022! I’m still in disbelief that 2021 is about to end, how about you? We’re buried in snow here in Seattle, experiencing unfamiliar subarctic temps. I haven’t driven for a week, though my intrepid husband ventured out to attempt to swim in Lake Washington three days ago. It’s his thing. Similar to Wim Hoff — aka The Iceman — M is a devout believer in the power of cold water swimming to cure all ailments. He’s been doing it since the pandemic started and it appears to work since he doesn’t seem to succumb to even the mildest of sniffles. Be that as it may, I was relieved when he decided that 28-degrees was taking it too far and merely gazed at the freezing water for an hour while sipping his double espresso. I’ve declined all invitations to join him. I’m not a strong swimmer and barely enter the water in summer months, and I’m not about to plunge into an icy lake.

I do, however, love to walk in the snow. I take long, meandering walks every morning regardless of weather conditions and I’ve been reveling in the soft crunch underfoot these last few days. The photo above is K’s handiwork (rather footwork) when we went on an afternoon walk together — she looked adorable as she jumped in the snow to form the heart shape footprints. Speaking of footprints, I like to see evidence of dog owners and their pups early in the morn on still-fresh swaths of white. I find it charming.

The snow-covered scenery has been ethereal. Snow blooms:

And there’s this metal chair sculpture in my neighborhood that’s fascinated me for years. The practical side of me wonders why it’s in such a strange spot by the sidewalk, but I suppose it’s some deep artistic statement that I’m not understanding.

So. 2022. Are you ready? With school on break and all this snow, the pace of life has been extra languid in the latter half of December, giving me ample time to contemplate what I intend for the new year. And while I contemplated, I organized/purged many areas of our abode little bits at a time since we’ve been mostly homebound. Our Christmas was lovely and…muted, to be honest. It was just the three of us (four if you count Katara, the cat) with calls to faraway relatives. Everything has been hushed and muted. Our days roll idly from one to the next, like a snowball in slow motion. Right now it doesn’t seem like much is happening, but gradually the moments and experiences will accumulate and by the end of next year, perhaps we’ll be astonished by all that was felt, accomplished, endured, overcome. I’m full of curiosity.

What do I intend for 2022? I’d like to simplify. And to beautify (the home, my creations, everything). I don’t have grand plans, per se. I feel like I’ve achieved so many of the things I used to want, and now I just want to stay healthy and enjoy being alive. Like Katara here, canoodling up to the heat vent and snuggling with her stuffed animal, which we call “Kissing Coyote.”

And you? Do you have plans and hopes for the new year? Are you glad to say farewell to 2021? I think I’ll miss this year. It was a surprisingly good one, leading me to viscerally understand that circumstances never have to override my choice for joy. We have had times that many would call heart-breaking. We have had huge wins. Up and down, up and down. And through it all, I’ve strengthened my mental/emotional muscles to find meaning and appreciation in everything. Perhaps that’s what I most intend for 2022: to continue strengthening these mental and emotional muscles.

Alright, it’s time for me to tackle organizing the frightening utility room. I wish you and all your loved ones a happy new year, my friends! 

2021 Advent Calendar + Free Printables!

Hello, hello my friends!

If you’re in the US, I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend to kick off the holiday season. Mine was quiet and very low-key, which is exactly how I like my my celebrations, especially celebrations about gratitude.

One of the things I’ve been working on over the long weekend is the annual Advent Calendar. It’s going to go on top of the piano, and this tradition is a much beloved one in our family. As I was cutting and assembling, I realized that this will be my 10th Advent Calendar. 10 years!! Isn’t that mind-boggling? As always, I’ve listed all the calendars I’ve made to date at the bottom. 

 

It’s always a challenge to come up with a different concept, and this year I designed a bunch of patterns, then I folded them into triangular boxes (I followed the tutorial from here, but made my own template of quatrefoil shapes). Aren’t the patterns cute? Can you find the boba tea and volleyball ones? You can tell that I had a lot of fun trying to make them holiday-esque! I created about 30 designs total but obviously only used 25, and tried to include a few motifs that represent K’s favorite things. I had a “doh!” moment, however, when I noticed that I forgot to include a music-related pattern. Music is at the top of her favorite things list! That and true crime podcasts, which I also didn’t include. What would I have drawn? Knives and blood and dead people? Crime tape?

So I started by cutting out the shape…

Then folded in the “petal” edges…

Then folded each triangle inward to create the square base…

Added the filling and punched a hole in each petal tip…

Threaded a cord through and attached a little circular label (for the countdown numbers 1-25)….

And voila!

I was especially proud of the idea of including a puzzle piece every day. I got one of those DIY puzzles from an art store and painted it with watercolors. I love that she’ll be able to slowly put together the puzzle throughout the month.

 

 

Fun, right?

Here they are…adorable triangular gift boxes, ready to be opened (sorry for the image quality — I was rapidly losing natural light):

 

Every year I like to offer up some free printable holiday tags for YOU, and realized that I could simply reduce the size of the quatrefoil shapes into sweet little tags. You know how much I love tags! If you’d like to download some tags from years past, scroll down after the list of Advent Calendars.

For this year I selected 12 of the designs that felt more generally appropriate (you probably don’t want a volleyball themed tag, right?) and arranged them onto one sheet as tags. Click on the image or here to download the file. I recommend printing them on card stock or textured paper like my go-to Inkjet paper for best results. 

I’m so excited for K to see the calendar tomorrow morning (December 1st)! That’s the most thrilling moment for me: when she wakes up and beholds the whole shabang.

By the way, if you’re subscribed to receive blog posts by email, I’ve switched email services and will be sending the blog posts from a different email address (sanae[at]sanaeishida.com), so you may find the blog updates in your promotions tab or in your spam folder. Please have a look there if you notice that you haven’t been getting updates from me. Thank you!!!

Oh, and here are the past Advent Calendars:

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

 

And here are tags from years past for your convenience if you’d like more options:

2020 Tags

 

Cat Wreath Tags

More Cat Tags

Bleu Tags

 

 

Animal Tags

 

 

Uncomfortable

Happy Halloween, my friends! If it’s a thing in your area, are you dressing up and/or trick-or-treating? That very abstract inky image right above is actually my living room wall when sunshine suddenly burst through the clouds and cast a murky, Halloween-y shadow pattern. Although I want to get more into the spirit of things, my Hallow’s Eve zest has been distracted by surreal events happening throughout the month. I’ve been very, very uncomfortable. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone, as it were, and am feeling like I’m wearing an existential costume a lot these days.

Part of it was flying out to California to film for Creativebug. So fun! So not in my wheelhouse! The image you see above was from the production set — I taught a bunch of sewing classes and they will be available through their site in a couple of months. More on that later.

Part of it was trying to update this ole blog of mine. Technology has always been challenging for me, and I kept messing up the website so I ended up reverting to the old blog format for the interim. I was also trying to revamp my email subscription system and botched that up too. If you are subscribed, you will probably get a number of annoying emails from me telling you that you’ll need to confirm your subscription. I apologize in advance! I haven’t given up yet and will continue to work on updating everything.

A little part of it was learning how to use various inks in my art supply stash in an unofficial attempt to join Inktober (apparently there’s some sort of copyright scandal associated with it so people don’t call it Inktober anymore? Not sure). I’ve been painting tiny sketches every day and posting them on Instagram. I realized how comfortable I’ve gotten with watercolors and gouache, and it was surprisingly challenging to adapt to the slightly different nature of inks. I also have an absurd amount of art supplies and had no idea that I had so many different types of inks. My favorite were these three: fuyu-syogun Iroshizuku by Pilot (a deep, deep indigo blue color), Yasutomo Sumi ink, and though not technically an ink, Dr Ph Martin’s Hydrus Fine Art liquid watercolor in carbon black is wonderful.

But all of these aspects have been good. I felt weirdly satisfied that I stuck through the discomfort of filming, failing at technology and understanding new paint mediums — I can’t say that the end results are exactly what I had in mind, but I feel less intimidated now. I’ll take it.

Alright. I am, as always, working  on meeting deadlines and will be back next month with some holiday goodies for you. Take good care, my lovely friends!