Thursday, May 28, 2009

And this is why I haven't been posting

I've been getting ready for Maker Faire! This was my office just a few
hours ago. All is packed and I'm sitting on a plane headed to San
francisco right this very moment.

I'll be blogging from Maker Faire here, but mostly over at
- so be sure to check that out.

You can also follow me on Twitter at
and on the CRAFT feed at

Time for some crafty fun! Can't wait to get around all my peeps and
soak up the awesomeness that is Maker Faire!

If you are going to be there, come by an see us at the CRAFT booth and
see my demo on 11:00 on Sunday!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Summer Craft Camp Time!

I'm actually looking forward to summer this year. My kids are getting older (they are 8 and just-about-5) and we've been having a lot of fun just hanging out together. It's also the first summer in a long time where I don't have a job that requires me to be somewhere at a certain time or is hugely stressful. I've started to see the possibility of doing some really fun stuff with my kids this summer, and that has me getting as excited about summer as I did when I was a kid.

Like most people, we are on a super tight budget right now. A summer full of camps and expensive activities just isn't going to happen. I'm pulling together loads of resources for fun, inexpensive things to do and - of course - crafting fits that bill perfectly.

That's why I'm so excited about the Summer Craft Camp we are doing over at All summer long, we'll have kid-friendly projects that will be perfect for filling the hot summer afternoons. One thing I'm most excited about for Summer Craft Camp is the participation of Kathie and Bernadette of Future Craft Collective. They'll have a special project each week that will not only get the kids making, but will get everyone thinking, too. Kathie and Bernadette are very special crafters. They focus on using repurposed materials and better yet, they focus on using craft as a vehicle to get kids talking and thinking about ideas like family relationships and consumerism. (Be sure to listen to Diane's Crafty Pod interview with Kathie and Bern!)

Their first project just went up over on Craftzine, and it's a goody. It's a beautiful way to plan out and keep up with summer activities. I'm looking forward to making one for our family. How about you?

Be sure to sign up for the Craftzine newsletter or Craft Daily so you can keep up with all the great Summer Craft Camp projects!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Two Weeks 'Til Maker Faire!!!!

I can't believe that two weeks from Thursday I'll be heading out to San Francisco for Maker Faire Bay Area! How is it already here? I am crazy kinds of excited, though. I'll be hanging at the CRAFT area and will be doing an Embroidery 101 demo at the CRAFT demo booth. I'll also be helping out with the kid craft area one morning - which should be crazy and fun.

I can't wait to see all the cool crafty offerings at the Faire. During Maker Faire Austin back in October, I met so many cool people and learned so many cool things. I learned about lace making, felting and pysanky. I watched guys hand carve giant wood blocks and then print with them. I watch as folks felted in plastic zip bags while they walked around the faire. And I caught several of the CRAFT demos from all kinds of interesting people, which was a blast.

The thing I'm most looking forward too, though, is seeing people I love - some of whom I haven't even met in person yet! I love my job more than you can imagine, and working virtually means I have incredible flexibility that is hugely appreciated. The downside, though, is that I rarely get to see the people with whom I work in person! We are spread - literally - across the country. We email constantly, instant message, share pics of our families and talk on the phone once a week. But none of that compares to getting to hang out in person.

At Maker Faire Austin, I got to hang out with Becky and Tina and Arwen (and more!) a bit, which was a total blast. At the time, I was still very new to the team and was suffering from a bad case of "I'm not worthy!" I was insanely shy. Fortunately, some of that shyness has rubbed off as our friendships have grown - albeit online - over the last six months. And now, I absolutely cannot wait to get to hang out with the rest of the gang in person and just soak up every minute of it. Since Natalie was days from delivering her first baby back in October, she wasn't able to come out to Maker Faire Austin. It's hard to believe I've never met her in person - it feels like I've known her for ages. Finally! We get to meet!

This online community is fascinating and fun, and one million times better when we can all get together in person. Can. Not. Wait.

If you are anywhere near San Mateo, you simply must come to Maker Faire. Heck, even if you aren't - it's a great vacation option. I haven't checked flights recently, but I landed super cheap airfare a while back. It's worth exploring.

Any of you coming to Maker Faire? You can keep up with our countdown to Maker Faire over on Craftzine, and I'll be blogging from the Faire there and some here (depending on how much time I have :) Come out and join all the fun!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Holy smokes, a perfect summer dress

Have you followed Grosgrain at all? It's a blog where Kathleen, a super talented seamstress, makes and showcases gorgeous clothing .... and then GIVES them away. Yeah. Gives-Them-Away.

I've followed the blog for ages, but haven't ever entered a giveaway since most of the items are kid clothes that are too small for my kids. But look what's up there right now! HOLY SMOKES! Check out this gorgeous custom-made dress from Loose Teeth that's up for grabs. Consider this me tossing my name into the hat. I would love to dance around this summer in this beauty ....

Loose Teeth Vintage Inspired Sundress with Petticoat GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

Mmmmm.... Bookshelves

Technically, it's a big magazine rack. I've been in the process (a long one) of cleaning out, reorganizing and decorating my home office/studio for the last few weeks. I got the room cleaned out, but had stacks and stacks of beautiful craft books that wouldn't fit in the skinny hand-me-down bookshelves I already had. I ran to my favorite thrift store and found the perfect solution in this ginormous magazine rack/bookshelf.

See, I'm a hugely visual person. I like having things out where I can see them - especially my books. Craft books are typically beautifully designed, and having them shoved - spines out - into a cramped bookshelf just doesn't do them justice. I also have a lot of random vintage books that I love (I'm a sucker for old science and text books, especially ones about the space program) and I just like to be able to actually look at them, ya know?

The magazine rack was $16, and after finding a friend's truck (and a friend who could drive a stick - thanks, Jamie!) I got it home and found that it fit perfectly on the wall directly across from my desk. I have loved having it there where I can look up at any moment and see my favorite craft and vintage books. It's crazy kinds of inspirational. I've also started hanging some of my other favorite inspirational items on the wall above the shelves.

I've still got a lot of work to do on the office, and I'll be documenting it here from time to time, but just this first big purchase makes me so giddy I can't stand it. And I haven't even repainted it yet!

You can see close-up pictures of each of the shelves over on my Flickr stream. I've labeled all the books and included links where I can, too. Enjoy!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sublime Stitching Winners!

Here's the card I stitched for my mom for Mother's Day. Pardon the poor quality photo - I took it with my iPhone late at night after I finished stitching in bed with my sleeping husband next to me. Couldn't go all flash-tastic on him. P.S. - she loved it. :)

A quickie post here to let you know who won the Sublime Stitching giveaway from last week. Remember that one person wins the Stitchable Stationery Kit from Sublime Stitching and one wins a hand-stitched card (by me!) from the kit.

So! Winner of the Kit is:
Winner of the Card is:
Kristi! (See! First commenter *can* win - it happened to me once, too! :)
Kristi - I need you to email me at averagejanecrafter at gmail dot com with your mailing address.

And the most fun handmade story left in the comments (winner of my admiration) is April:

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mother's Day Goodies & Coveting Crafts

Last year, I got the awesome embroidery necklace charms for Mother's Day. I was so excited to get the sweet little box (packaged so unbelievably well) with the wee charms inside (helooooo Feather Stitch!) This year, I sent my big wishlist item to my husband a little late in the game, so I'm still not sure if he'll be able to deliver.

A few weeks ago, I featured the amazing vintage button flower bouquets from Lisa at Lil Fish Studios over on CRAFT. I was so blown away by them, that I spent at least two days just randomly returning to Lisa's Flickr Stream and fawning over them. They just made me ... happy!

Do you have handmade items that you absolutely covet? Things that you don't just think are "cute" or "cool," but that really inspire you and cause a visceral reaction when you see them?

I've started a list of these "covet" items. My hope is that, by having this list, I'll be more conscious of saving up for these things that I truly love and mean something to me. Some of the things on my list are one of Mimi Kirchner's Tiki Pillows or Tattooed Men dolls, a Cha-Cha bracelet from Naughty Secretary Club, and a bouquet of vintage button flower from Lil Fish Studios. For the time being, the button flowers are the thing that fall closest to our budget. When I first saw Lisa's bridal work, I thought, "Man! I wish I could get married again just to be able to carry one of those!" Then I realized ... I don't have to be getting married to have a nice little bouquet of them right here on my desk. To think of what it would be like to look at them on a daily basis while I work ... well, it just makes me plain ole giddy. So I passed the link and Lisa's contact information on to my husband in hopes he would take the hint. Of course, I could be building myself up for disappointment here, but even if it doesn't come through for Mother's Day, I'm vowing to have one of those button bouquets on my desk by the end of summer, for sure.

Most of the things on my "covet list" have to do with people. They are made by people I know or admire, and that makes me appreciate them even more. What's on your covet list? I'm wondering if I should keep a running list of mine as a link on the side bar ....

In other Mother's Day news, I had a total blast writing a Mother's Day series for CRAFT about some of my favorite Mother/Daughter Crafters. I profiled Maura Madden (of Crafternoon fame) and her mom, Jennifer Perkins (of Naughty Secretary Club) and her mom, and Diane Gilleland (of Crafty Pod) and her mom. It was so much fun to learn about their crafting relationships and share their stories with CRAFT readers. I was really struck by how big a role crafting has played in their relationships, and how truly close it has brought each of them together. It has me rethinking my whole "crafting-is-mom's-time" stand.... So take a few minutes to go read the Mother's Day stories over on CRAFT. My fellow bloggers, Becky Stern and Shawn Connally, also wrote great pieces about their own crafty moms. Do you have any crafty mom stories to share?

Finally, I teach my first-ever Mother-Child embroidery class tomorrow. I thought it would be a fun thing to do for Mother's Day, and I'm looking forward to it (though I'm a little nervous ...) I haven't taught kids before, and I'm really curious how it will all play out. I have to send out huge thanks to Mary Corbet of Needle 'N Thread for her oodles and oodles of invaluable information that she shared with me about teaching hand embroidery to kids. She is highly experienced in the matter, and made no hesitation to give me a hugely thorough response when I asked if she had any tips. I'm so grateful for her generosity.

Have a fantastic weekend, and check back in on Monday when I'll announce the winners of the Sublime Stitching giveaway from earlier this week!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sublime Stitching Review Part 3: Stitchable Stationery and Giveaway!

Day One, I introduced you to the new Sublime Stitching Journal. Day Two was the adorable Bib Kit (which, by the way, is part of our Friday CRAFT pattern podcast - you can get two of the designs from the kit for free!) and today I'm sharing my favorite new Sublime Stitching products - the Stitchable Stationery.

The kit comes with six 5X7" note cards that are printed with adorable embroidery designs on nice, heavy paper. There are also coordinating envelopes, embroidery floss and two needles.

I have had more fun with this kit than I'd expected I would. The cards aren't pre-punched, so I thought it would be frustrating to have to punch the holes myself. It was quite the opposite. Punching the holes with the included needles took 5 minutes for the simplest designs, and just under 10 for the more complicated ones. Here's my tip: Lay the card on the arm of your chair or couch and quickly punch each hole. You don't have to take the needle all the way through this way, and it makes things go muuuuuch quicker. I didn't have any problems with needle marks on my chair, but you might want to test one or two punches just to make sure this will work for you.

Stitching on the cards was also a breeze. The paper is nice and thick, and once you've punched your holes, it's a dream to stitch on. I also like that, since the stitch dots are already marked on the pattern, your stitches end up looking super even and clean. It's strangely satisfying.

The accompanying envelopes are also adorable. They come in a variety of muted colors (white, yellow, beige-ish) and have little stitching designs on them.

And, of course, since this is a Chronicle Books product, the packaging is impeccable. The folder in which the stationery is stored is actually stitched across the top and bottom. Cards and envelopes are in one side, and floss and needles are on the other side. The folder is sturdy enough that you could reuse it once you've stitched and sent all your cards.

As I was tweeting about stitching these cards at my son's tee ball game last week, someone asked if stitching on cards wasn't something I could do on my own, and did I feel the kit was worth the money. To this, I answered, "Yes and Yes." There are loads of tutorials around on the web for hand-stitching on paper cards. It's certainly a project anyone can tackle. I also think, though, that this kit is great because it gets you stitching within moments of opening it. I have stitching-on-paper tutorials bookmarked, and designs in my head ... but I've still never jumped on the project. This took some of that guesswork and planning out of the process so I could just get to stitchin'. Plus, I really like how the dots are already on the design, giving a very clean look to the stitching. Lastly, because it comes with the supplies needed to stitch (and brief instruction on using the back stitch to complete all the designs) I think it would make a great gift.

In short, there's room for both. These sweet little projects could absolutely get you even more inspired to tackle the project on your own.

Finally! The giveaway part! I have two things up for grabs:

  1. A Sublime Stitching Stitchable Stationery Kit - thanks to the Sublime Stitching gang
  2. A hand-stitched card from the kit - stitched by me, with some kind of witty, crafty message inside and mailed to you! Who doesn't love getting *real* mail, right? I've stitched a card that I'll mail to one lucky winner. You can cut it in half and toss the side with the message, or keep the whole thing in hopes that some day I'll be "famous" (ha!) Whatever you choose.
To enter: Leave a comment on this post and tell me when was the last time you sent an actual hand-crafted card (stitched, collage, painted - whatever!) in the mail to someone, and why you might be inspired to send one out soon. I'll close comments at 9AM CST on Thursday, May 7th and will notify winners here on the blog by Monday, May 11th. Enjoy, and pass it on to friends! :)