Thursday, December 9, 2010

Crazy Full of Gratitude

Thank You 2

My good pal, Jote, started a most wonderful series on her blog recently called 30 Days With a Grateful Heart. Each day, she's sharing something for which she's grateful, ranging from deep and meaningful family memories and relationships to something as simple as a pair of comfortable shoes. What's been really fun about the series is how a substantial group of our mom friends have started playing along and are sharing their daily gratitude. It's been nice to see everyone's posts especially over on Facebook where we can easily catch up each day.

I've not been able to keep up each day, because our lives are pretty darn hectic right now. I don't think I've mentioned it here yet, but our family is in the process of selling our house and moving. We're leaving Austin (sigh ... don't get me started on how hard that is) and are moving to Houston for a great job opportunity for the husband. More on that later (especially if we get the house we're hoping for ... there will be some great blogging on updating the house ....)


While I haven't had time to blog my gratitude each day, I have been feeling it - and in a very big way. The last 4-5 weeks have been some of the most emotionally tumultuous of my life, not to mention just flat out full of incredibly hard work on top of the regular day-to-day work, all while single-moming it since the husband has already moved to Houston.

The gratitude is what has been getting me through. One day in particular a little more than a week ago, I was feeling insanely overwhelmed with some of the house stuff I was having to do. I woke up with my stomach in knots, thinking about everything I needed to get done that day. I fired up my computer and was pleasantly greeted with two really sweet and thoughtful posts about my Moon embroidery from my pal, Paul at Dude Craft, and one of my embroidery mentors, Mary at Needle 'n Thread. Several other friends blogged and shared links for voting via Facebook and Twitter, and I found that my overwhelm of gratitude was kicking my overwhelm of stress square in the face. So nice. (I'll be blogging more thanks about the folks who helped spread the word for voting in another post. My Moon made it to the finals! Hurrah!)

Thank You

Two days ago, as real estate stress was once again pushing me to my very outer limit (and a bit beyond) I came home to two big boxes on my front porch. I saw that they were from two of my favorite people on the planet, Diane and Pam. They are my adopted sister and mom, and though we rarely get to see each other, I love them dearly. There are many things for which I'm grateful in the blogging world, but these two people and the relationship we've developed over the past few years is at the very top of my list.

My daughter helped me open and unpack the boxes, and what we found left me in a huge puddle of tears. I'd mentioned in a post on CRAFT about Diane's awesome plastic canvas gingerbread house that I didn't think I'd be able to do homemade gingerbread houses this year since I'm so preoccupied with house-selling/buying/moving stuff. In these two boxes from Diane and Pam were all the things we needed to spark up our holiday spirit - something that was completely missing around here.

IBOL Thank You

They sent two gingerbread house kits, holiday craft supplies and coloring pages for the kids, and fabulous teas for me. They also sent several packages of delicious holiday cookies and treats. If you've read Pam's blog for any time at all, you know that she makes the most awesome Christmas cookies and treats, and getting to have some of those yummy homemade goodies just made my heart so happy (not to mention, I was in total awe of their packing techniques. Not a single cookie was broken - it was amazing!)

As I went through each of the things Diane and Pam so lovingly packed up and sent, I just started sobbing uncontrollably. I actually kind of freaked my daughter out. She said, "Stop crying! This isn't sad! This is great!" I used the opportunity to explain "happy tears" to her. It was one of those moments when you are emotionally and physically exhausted and then you get the most wonderful, thoughtful surprise you could ever imagine. The gratitude just slayed me. Flat. Out. Slayed. Me.

Even though I've had almost unbearable amounts of stress the last month or so (and surely more to come) it is insane amounts of gratitude for friends and their overwhelming kindness that are carrying me through every little bit of it. So ... THANK YOU. All of you.

Thank you by vistamommy
Gratitude by kateausburn
Thank you by RobeRt Vega
Thank You SEW Much by
Heidi Elliott

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More on the Moon: VOTE NOW.

Space + Craft = Awesome from Rachel Hobson on Vimeo.

Photos of the embroidery by sweet Jote

Just more than a week ago, I was crushed to find out that my High Texture Hand Embroidery of the Moon had not made the first cut in the NASA/Etsy Space Craft contest. I realized it was an opportunity to remember exactly why I started the project in the first place, and I've truly delighted in sharing the inspiration, information and stitch "education" behind the project over the last week. Thanks so much for your incredibly kind words and thoughtful support.

So I was very stunned to get news today that there was an apparent technical glitch in the way entries were culled from the Etsy listings for that first round of voting. And now, my Moon embroidery is eligible for voting. That's right, folks .... there's still a chance this puppy could fly in space.

I'm still trying to fully understand what happened, and I have to admit, it feels a little weird (I assure you I never contacted Etsy about not making the cut - I was over it, and had just gotten down to enjoying sharing the project here.) but I can't let that keep me from asking you to vote and spread the word.

You'll have to register with Etsy to vote, but it truly takes just a minute or two. Here are some resources for you in case you'd like to easily share the piece with friends to ask them to vote. Blog it, tweet it, Facebook it - whatever. I appreciate your support. The top 20 vote-getters (and this includes those who were voted on before the glitch was discovered) will go back to judges for the final call on the winner.

Wow. Just ... wow.
Now, uhhhh - go vote! And be sure to check out all the folks who are included in this second round, including my pal Jen whose rad needle felted Hubble Telescope was included this time! Hurrah!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

More on the Moon: The stitches used in the project

Before I started working on the Moon project, most of what I stitched was super simple. My fallback stitch is the good 'ole backstitch, and most of the designs I've stitched are straight up line drawings with little filled in. That's one reason I was particularly drawn to Sharon's Sumptuous Surfaces class. I was really intrigued by the depth and text she creates in her pieces, and wanted to see how my style might work with those techniques.

Sharon guided us through designing our pieces and shared a variety of stitches for us to incorporate as we wanted to. Her online stitch dictionary is incredibly extensive, and each week she'd usually share some new stitch in our class materials. I also used Mary Corbet's valuable video library of stitches as a point of reference. Below, I'll list the stitches I used in this project. (hint: I saved the best for last) The great thing is that most of them are incredibly simple stitches that you likely already know or can learn easily. I'm listing each stitch and then, in parentheses*, I'll list links to various online resources where you can learn the stitch on your own. On this picture and this picture (on Flickr) I've noted what most of the stitches are (as best I can). Let me know if you have any questions! Please note that in this post, not all the pictures are matched up perfectly with their stitch information, so don't let that confuse you.
*The Web sites referenced are as follows:

Stem Stitch (In a Minute Ago) (Needle 'n Thread) - The stem stitch is one of my all-time favorite stitches. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but once Leslie showed me a little trick on getting started, I was hooked. Once you get going with the stem stitch - especially if you are using the sewing method - it works up very quickly and stitches in a beautifully rhythmic cadence. Stem stitch is often seen as an outline stitch, but it also makes a gorgeous filling. I worked rows of stem stitch to fill large areas, working left to right and then flipping my work and working back down the line so the stitches ended up kind of interlocking as they went (though not perfectly all the time. ;) When worked with pearl (perle) cotton, it takes on an entirely new texture that is divine.

Chain Stitch (In a Minute Ago) (Needle 'n Thread) - I have to admit, I used to not be a very big fan of the chain stitch. It took me a while to get the hang of it, and I was used to working it with pretty large, open stitches. I decided to try tightening up the stitch to use as a nice, textural filling and quickly changed my opinion of the chain stitch. I became obsessive, challenging myself to make the stitches as tiny as I possibly could. I particularly delighted in stitching the chain in size 12 (read: tiny) pearl cotton.

Satin Stitch (In a Minute Ago) (Sublime Stitching) The only part of the project where I used the satin stitch was on Tycho. It was technically a "padded" satin stitch, because I first outlined the shape of the area with split stitch and then laid the satin stitch down over that, giving it a bit more volume.

Split Stitch (In a Minute Ago) (Needle 'n Thread) Most of the split stitch I did on this project is covered in satin stitch (see above) but there are a few areas where I worked rows upon rows of split stitch for filling.

Portuguese Stem Stitch (Pin Tangle) (Needle 'n Thread) The main part where the Portuguese Stem Stitch is used is in the outline of the moon. It created the perfect, knobby edge to the moon. I love when I look through my telescope at the very edges of the moon. They always appear so textural as they edge off into the blackness of space. This stitch did a nice job of capturing that.

French Knot (In a Minute Ago) (Needle 'n Thread) (Sublime Stitching) I love love love love love love love French Knots. Once I mastered them (thanks, Jenny!) they quickly hit the top of my list of favorite stitches. I went French knot crazy on this piece. There are sections where I packed French knots on top of French knots and just luxuriated in their texture. I used different kinds of threads to beef up the texture even more.

Bullion Knot (In a Minute Ago) (Needle 'n Thread) Bullion knots have always kind of intimidated me, and I have to admit I'm still not 100% comfortable with them. Mary's video helped me get the hang of them, though, and I used them sparingly in this piece. I want to play with them a little bit more, because I've seen some really fun applications of bullion knots that I'd love to try ...

Buttonhole Wheels (In a Minute Ago) (Needle 'n Thread) Buttonhole wheels are incredibly fun and addictive. They make great flowers, are graphic and easy to work up.

This is the first buttonhole wheel cup I ever stitched! The start of something wonderful ...

Buttonhole Wheel Cup (Pin Tangle) This has become, by far, my all-time favorite stitch. This was one of the first new stitches Sharon B shared with us during the Sumptuous Surfaces class, and as soon as I saw it, I knew it would be a perfect stitch for the craters on my Moon. Sharon's instructions and photographs are very clear and easy to understand. Essentially, you are working a button hole wheel and then working buttonhole stitches in to the ridge of the wheel. You can work as many rows as you like, and the more you add, the higher up the ridges of the "cup" will stand. When I worked this stitch with a fine pearl cotton (size 12) and added at least three rows to the "cup" it produced the most fantastically gnarly craters. Give them a try!

One of the coolest things about this project is how dense the stitching became. I'm used to my projects staying fairly light and simple, but when I took this one off the hoop, I was stunned by how .... heavy it was it was thick and substantial. I loved that!

It's easy to look at a project like this and think, "holy smokes! So complicated!" but hopefully when you see the stitches broken down above you can see that it's all actually simple and well within your reach.

If you missed the first couple of posts in this series, check them out here:
Space + Craft (still) = Awesome
More on the Moon: Sharon B's Sumptuous Surfaces Class

Up next in my series of moon posts (sick of 'em yet? too bad! ;) is more about the moon and why it makes me ... swoon!

Monday, November 15, 2010

More on the Moon - Sharon B's Sumptuous Surfaces Embroidery Class

This is a follow-up post about my high texture hand embroidery of the moon. It was a massive project, so it deserves a few posts. Today, I'll cover the class in which I started the project. :)

Last spring, I took an online class from Sharon B of Pin Tangle that was called Sumptuous Surfaces. I've followed Sharon's blog for a very long time, and while my stitching style was quite different than her work, I was really intrigued by her class offering. I was ready to challenge myself and try something new in my embroidery.

Our first assignment was to create a 4"X6" monochromatic piece. Because the moon makes me swoon (no really, the first time I looked at the moon through my telescope, I started to cry) I decided it would be a perfect subject for monochromatic, high texture embroidery.

I fell terribly behind on the project, though, and as other students zoomed right into their second projects (a full-color piece) I slowly but surely stitched away at my moon. It traveled with me to California, Colorado, New York and was with me in several embroidery classes and Stitch 'n Bitch evenings. I've never worked so hard or so long on a project.

I've also never used so much embroidery floss on a project! The black sky portion alone used two full skeins of floss each of black and a steel gray color. It was crazy! Types of thread used include stranded cotton embroidery floss, pearl cotton, rayon and silk. I hadn't stitched with pearl cotton much before, and Sharon encouraged us to try lots of different kinds of threads. I have a lot (I mean ... a lot) of stranded cotton embroidery floss, and most of it was stuff I got through various jobs. I decided to take a trip to Ginger's Needle Arts here in Austin and treat myself to lots of yummy new threads. I went a little nuts, but I didn't care. I was able to get some great stuff and support a local business. Score!

This project made me fall in love with pearl cotton. I wasn't sure how I would like it, but after using all sizes and a couple of brands (DMC and Anchor) I was sold. Big time. The pearl cotton just adds a whole other layer of texture to the stitches that is loads of fun to play with.

I also wasn't sure how doing an embroidery class online would work, but it turned out to be great fun. Sharon was a great instructor who clearly put a ton of effort and planning in to the class. Each week, we had a lengthy downloadable lesson and an active online forum in which we posted pictures, asked questions and got feedback from classmates and Sharon. It worked out great, and it was a lot of fun to see everyone's work progress and interact with people all over the world, as well as one person who was right here in Austin with me. All in all, the class was a truly fun and inspiring experience, and I can't wait to take another one from Sharon soon!

In my previous post, I explained this project, my passion for space and moving on past disappointment. In my next post, I'll highlight the various stitches I used in the project! Stay tuned ...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Space + Craft (still) = Awesome.

All the photos in this post were taken by my good friend
and all-around awesome human being,


Apparently there was a glitch in the way Etsy pulled tagged entries for the contest, and it turns out that now my embroidered Moon is up for voting! Go vote and tell your friends! Thank you so much!

This should have been a different post. I'd hoped I'd be posting a request for help to vote for the embroidery I created above for a chance to help it possibly fly in space. A few weeks ago, NASA and Etsy announced their Space Craft contest. My heart started beating out of my chest as I read the contest details, which include a possible opportunity to have your handmade item fly in space on board one of the final space shuttle flights. (heck - is wasn't just a high heart rate I experienced. When I read the part about flying the object in space, I got totally choked up!)

This is my high texture hand embroidery of the moon that I entered in the contest. I'll fill you in on the specifics of the project soon and will share some great space and embroidery resources as well. What I'd hoped I'd be doing this weekend was spreading the word far and wide that I'd made it to round 2 of the contest where folks would have the opportunity to vote for their favorite space-inspired hand-made item. I won't lie, while I wasn't arrogant enough to think I might win this whole thing, I did feel confident I would at least make it to the voting round, and I was prepared to work my backside off to spread the word for voting. My good friend, Becky, even helped me make a nice little video giving some insight into why I was so passionate about the contest. Maybe I jinxed myself, but hey - when you want something badly, you want to "bring it" and I was fully prepared to "bring it" in a big way.

Space + Craft (still) = Awesome (even if I didn't make the vote cut)
from Rachel Hobson on Vimeo.
(ignore the "vote for me" portion of the video ;) Thanks, Becky! )

I was not prepared to not have the chance to bring it. And when the voting opened last night, and I quickly realized I hadn't made the cut ... I was crushed. I commiserated with good friend and fellow Spacetweep, Jen, whose amazing needle felted Hubble Space Telescope also didn't make the cut in her category, and there were several very kind people on Twitter who shared some lovely words about my embroidery. That helped, but I have to admit I was very disappointed and deflated.

It wasn't just the opportunity to "win" a contest I was excited about. Absolutely, I was thrilled (to tears) about the idea of something I made flying in space, but more than that, I was excited for the opportunity to share my two biggest passions - space and craft - with a wider audience. I was excited to share resources with people, get folks who might not be fired up about space to get interested in it and to hopefully inspired people who would never consider picking up a needle and thread to do so. I was excited about the chance to connect and share with more people.

I decided I needed to lay off the social media early last night, and started to watch a great documentary on the Apollo program instead. As I watched, my heart filled with excitement once more and I was reminded why I spent so much time on this project; why I stitched craters until I had calluses on my fingertips, why I took the piece with me everywhere I went so I could stitch at any given opportunity, why I delighted in sharing the subject matter with anyone who was gracious enough to ask about it.

It wasn't because of the contest, it was because of the Moon. And space. And embroidery. And the pure joy that these things bring to me. And I can't let what a random handful of judges think of my work keep me from loving these things and sharing them with other people.

And so that's exactly what I'm going to do. Over the next few days, I'll be sharing more background information on this project. It was my most massive embroidery undertaking to date, and I fell madly in love with it. I'll share information about the class in which I started the project, some of the stitches I used, some of the threads I used and more information about the moon and why I love it so much. I've also set up a page of embroidery and space links in case I've inspired anyone to explore these two passions of mine. If you have any questions about either subject, just let me know and I'll do my best to answer them in the follow up posts.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Space and Embroidery - you can do it!

As you know, I'm a huge space geek, and my craft of choice is hand embroidery. I truly believe both subjects have a lot to offer in terms of education, creativity, innovation and inspiration. Because I'm also a big internet junkie, I've collected loads of resources that will help you explore both subjects. Enjoy!

Hand Embroidery Resources

Classes - I can't tell you how many times I've had a student in one of my embroidery classes say how much of a difference it makes to have someone, in person, show them how to do hand embroidery. Do yourself a favor and check out your local sewing or craft studios to see about trying a hand embroidery class.

Sublime Stitching - Jenny Hart has a lot of great patterns and tutorials on her web site. They are a great place to get started and are a lot of fun to stitch.

Needle 'n Thread - Mary Corbet is a master of embroidery, and provides some excellent tutorials and great how-to videos on her web site.

The CRAFT embroidery archives are filled with all kinds of great inspirational projects and how-tos.

Mr. X-Stitch is a great site for modern embroidery. Lots of interesting and fun stuff!

Pin Tangle - from Sharon B. I started this moon embroidery project in Sharon's Sumptuous Surfaces class.

The Flickr Embroidery Group offers loads of great inspiration and a great, supportive embroidery community.

The Flickr Embroidery Group Blog - Feeling Stitchy

Space Resources

NASA - NASA has done a great job of reaching out to folks through social media. Their Twitter feed is great, many astronauts are now on Twitter (some even tweet from space!) and their "following" list is filled with many must-follows on Twitter.

NASA TV - If you are lucky enough to have NASA TV on your cable line-up, be sure to check it out regularly. Even if you can't watch it on your television, you can watch it online. Watching NASA TV during a shuttle mission is especially exciting. It blows my mind to think that we can watch a spacewalk taking place *live* more than 200 miles above our heads. If we can, we should.

Space Tweep Society - This group has been huge in my connecting with loads of interesting, kind, supportive and enthusiastic space geeks on Twitter and beyond. I've made great friends, learned tons and have really enjoyed this community. - Robert Pearlman has an incredible wealth of knowledge on all things related to the history of the space program. Members of the collectSPACE community are active, supportive and very knowledgeable. (and just darn cool)

Astronomy Picture of the Day - sometimes you just need some quick, visual inspiration. APOD is a great place for that!

And for more gorgeous inspiration, check out the Hubble web site.

These links are just a sampling of some of the great online resources for hand embroidery and space exploration. Consider them a jumping off point, and feel free to fall into these favorite obsessions of mine. :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stitchin' with my students

Last week, I held the first (official) Embroidery Stitch 'n Bitch over at the Stitch Lab. It's a special evening for former Stitch Lab embroidery students to meet up and spend the evening snacking, chatting and stitching on current projects.

Of course, I was looking forward to the evening. Stitching and friends in the awesome Stitch Lab environment? Sign me up! And I was glad there were a lot of people who wanted to come. I was nervous no one would RSVP, but ended up not having enough space for everyone who wanted to be there. Embroidery addiction rules!

And while I was expecting to have fun stitching and gabbing, I hadn't given much thought to what it would be like to see so many students and the projects they'd be working on since class. I was so caught up in talk, that I didn't get to snap many pictures (such a bad habit of mine) but I can tell you these folks knocked my socks clean off.

One pulled out a whole handful of projects, including pictures of embroidered portraits she'd stitched and given to close friends. Another pulled out an awesome apron she'd stitched with cute Sublime Stitching images and also screen printed in one of Kat's classes! One practiced silk ribbon stitches while another worked away on a doodle cloth. One student was stitching part of a cowboy-themed baby quilt she was making as a gift. Another student continued work on a complicated cross-stitch Christmas stocking she's been working on for her son.

One student, who had just taken my class less than a month ago, pulled out an awesome Eagle Scout stitching that will be turned into a pillow that she made for a friend. She also pulled out an amazing work-in-progress for her husband's Christmas gift. I'm not going to post the picture I took of that until after she completes it and gives it to him (no spoilers on the random off chance he'd see it) but let's just say it is beyond awesome and a huge undertaking. If anyone can do it, though, she can. She quietly stitched away throughout the evening and completed a nice chunk of it.

I felt incredibly lucky to have been able to get to know these awesome women and to teach them one of my all-time favorite activities. Even to be just a small part of their creative growth is an incredible privilege. It was also really special to sit around the cutting table, stitching and talking, like so many women in history have done. It sounds corny, but there was a definite connection to the past in that room last Thursday night. I can't wait to do it again.

If you are in Austin and would like to take an embroidery class with me (and then get on the super special guest list for future Stitch 'n Bitch nights) check out the Stitch Lab web site for class details! I'd love to see you there.

Monday, September 20, 2010

An update on Baby Ike

A little more than a year and a half ago, many of you shared your generous support for Baby Ike (Ike-a-saurus), the son of one of my best friends. Ike and his family have been through a lot in the last 18 months or so, but now have some really fantastic news to share. I'm a little late in posting about it, but last month, Ike and his parents spent several weeks in Cincinnati, where Ike underwent surgery to reconstruct his airway. While his recovery process in the first week post-surgery was a bit treacherous (heh - Kari will laugh at the "bit" part), he went on to recover so strongly that he was released to come back to Texas early.

He still has a long road ahead, but he's doing great so far. He's "breathing through his face" and doing wonderfully "normal" things like climbing up on to the kitchen table, sleeping in his own big-boy bed, and celebrating milestones like his first trip to the grocery store. He (and his family) are truly amazing. Our community of mamas had a big Welcome Home party for the Roy family a few weeks ago, and it was so beautiful to see everyone celebrate the effort everyone made to help support this family through such turbulent waters. The following weekend, we joined again to celebrate Kari's new book, Brains for Lunch. At both raucous, crowd-packed events, Ike was totally in his element, rockin' his Chucks, batting his eyelashes and wooing everyone.

I just have to give another heartfelt thanks to everyone who donated items for Ike's auction or purchased items from Ike's auction or said a prayer, sent a thought, etc. Ike's recovery and his family's strength through it all have been amazing to witness, and equally impressive is the tremendous support from all corners of the country for this sweet little guy. Thank you.

You can keep up with Ike and Kari and the gang over on Kari's blog, Haiku of the Day.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Space and Stitchery (a.k.a. My Happy Place)

Having the chance to combine your passions is a pretty darn special treat, and when other folks respond positively to that ... well, it doesn't get much better. I'm so excited/honored/thrilled/stoked that my Hubble cross-stitch project won First Prize in the Funniest category of the ESA Hubble Pop Culture contest. Can you believe it? Nope - I can't, either.

I don't know that I was going for "funny" when I made the project, but considering the fact that humor is how I make it through any tough situations in life, I'll go ahead and take it. Not to mention the fact that First Prize carries some insanely awesome prizes. Hurrah!

This is the second time I've had a crazy idea for a project that combines my passions, but seems a little ... odd. One part of me said, "This is so dorky. Why would you bother?" but the bigger part of me said, "So what!? I like it! I'm doing it!" And when I went ahead with it, really fantastic things followed.

photo by Robert Pearlman of collectSPACE

So what does this mean to you? Well - I've had a postcard on my desk for years (actually, I can't find it at the moment, but it's seared in to my brain, so ...) it says, "Trust Your Crazy Ideas."

For reals, y'all. Trust those crazy ideas. Love what you do - do it with passion and most importantly, HAVE. FUN. DOING. IT. Don't worry about what other people think. And be sure to take things ... well ... One Screw at a Time.

You can read the full story behind the project in my original post about it.

When I was contacted about the win, the ESA folks asked several questions, the final one being if I had any favorite Hubble images. Here was my response:
I find most every image in the Hubble gallery inspiring, fascinating and humbling. Some of my favorite images, though, are pictures of the astronauts who have serviced Hubble through the years as they work on Hubble. More proof that humans are critical to space exploration.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Brand Spankin' New Stitch Lab Web Site

One of my latest creative endeavors isn't of a crafty nature.

Well, it kind of is.

I'm thrilled to announce the launch of the brand new Stitch Lab web site, designed and built by ... me! For the last six months or so, we've gone through countless versions, gathered massive amounts of content, edited hundreds of photos and built a ginormo-awesome web site for my favorite crafty spot on the planet. It was a huge undertaking, but even in its most stressful moments, was a true labor of love and a joy to work on.

It's so exciting to know how much incredible growth the Stitch Lab has had in the last few years. From a few classes a week in Leslie's backyard studio a few years ago, to dozens of classes a week (and more than 90 different classes on the roster) with almost 10 instructors and a bustling retail shop, I'm simply blown away by what Leslie has inspired and created.

The new web site is built to handle the high volume of enrollments, to share resources for students and to convey the spirit and fun of the Stitch Lab. I can't tell you how satisfying it is to see it up and running.

And it's still growing! More resources will be added, and a fully-functioning blog will be integrated so Leslie and Carol can share their favorite crafty tidbits and what's new in the shop. (mmmmm .... fabric .....)

I hope that even if you aren't in Austin, you'll pop by and check it out and let us know what you think. I feel really lucky to be a part of the Stitch Lab gang, and honestly quite honored to be tasked with creating the Stitch Lab online presence. I'm excited to see what growth the next few years have in store for us!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Summer Sewing at the Ranch

The kids and I took a little break last week and headed out to a special little place out in the Hill Country: my parent's ranch. This is a place we love, and after spending a week out there last summer, we decided to give it another go this year.

Along with lots of swimming, wildlife observation and s'mores, we made time for some serious crafting. My friend, Jamie, joined us at the ranch with her son, and we had big plans for knocking out a lot of sewing while the kids played.

I have to admit that the crafting portion of the vacation was pretty darn blissful. We transformed the Party Barn into a massive sewing area, complete with cutting, ironing and sewing stations. It made for dream-like sewing conditions.

We decided to keep our sewing to-do list pretty simple, and stuck to knocking out tons of elastic-waist skirts (and a bag, for Jamie). We pulled out our trusty skirt patterns from our Beginning I Sewing Series classes at the Stitch Lab and went to town. After a couple of days (and one *very* late night) we'd knocked out eight skirts and one bag. All in all, a very productive use of our time.

Doing so much hard-core sewing made me really miss sewing. I do so much embroidery, that it had been a really long time since I'd been behind a sewing machine, and I'd forgotten how much I enjoy it. Not to mention, it was hugely satisfying to crank out essentially an entire summer skirt wardrobe in just a couple of days. I've already worn three of the skirts since we've been back!

So what summer crafting have you been up to?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ahhhh ... Maker Faire. My Happy Place

Here's (most of) the CRAFT team at the Maker Happy Hour on the Friday night before Maker Faire opened. Such a happy place and time. Cool air, cold beer, giant rockets and some of the most amazingly creative and innovative people in one place? Yes. Please.

Since summer is so nutty, I find myself blissing out in my mind and going to my Happy Place: Maker Faire. I just realized that I never reported back after the big event - mostly 'cause from Maker Faire it was a quick downhill slope to summer.

As usual, Maker Faire was amazing. More than amazing, really. I walk around Maker Faire and have that "Where have you people been all my life!?" feeling. I want to look at Maker Faire in the face and say, "YOU COMPLETE ME."

Not really. That's the heat talking. I think I need to have one of Jote's Blackberry Smashes ... STAT.

Anyway - here are some of my favorite pictures from Maker Faire. Enjoy! I'll look at them, wishing I was back in the 60-degree temps of the Bay Area with all my rad CRAFT pals, surrounded by (as the most awesome Lish says) Robots and Glitter. (most of these pictures were taken by the lovely Natalie Zee Drieu and are linked to her Flickr accordingly.)

Look, Ma! It's me with Han Solo in Carbonite! Natalie took me to meet the seriously awesome Bonnie Burton over at Lucasfilm, and it. was. awesome. I was just sad my son couldn't be there, though I think his little brain might have exploded at the awesomeness.

Here's me and Nat with the Burda Style gang! Love these folks! They put together a fantastic booth, were crazy kinds of organized and were all around awesome, stylish, nice and fun. And how rad is Alden's shirt?

This is me with artist and designer, Laura Cesari. I wrote a profile on Laura over on CRAFT, and fell in love with her solar system necklaces. I not-so-gently hinted that I wanted one for Mother's Day, and thankfully my husband took the bait. I have to say, the necklace was ten times more gorgeous in person. It's weighty and tactile - I love it! Laura did a demo on making a solar system necklace in the CRAFT booth and it was awesome to see how she works. She was so nice, and it was great fun to meet the person who made one of my very favorite pieces of jewelry.

Here's Bonnie Burton - Star Wars Craft Woman Extraordinaire! Bonnie does all the crafts for, has a few Star Wars books under her belt already and has a Star Wars Crafts book coming out this fall that I can't wait to get my paws on. She and Terri Hodges made Star Wars Sack puppets with kids in the CRAFT booth on Saturday, and the kids had such a blast, I decided we're making them at my son's birthday party this weekend.

Here's me and Lish, swapping glasses. Lish's Ray Bans are her Trademark, so I'm pretty sure I freaked her out by suggesting we swap, and I seriously can not rock the Ray Bans like she does .. but it was fun! I love Lish and wish we could hang out, craft and eat cupcakes every day.

Hey look! It's Becky and Collin! Two of my favorite people on the planet! Becky and Collin were roving video reporters all weekend long, and have produced some fantastic videos that help you feel like you were at the Faire. I particularly enjoyed their Raygun Gothic Rocketship video. Nice work, guys! (Also be sure to check out Collin's nutty sci-fi videos that instantly endeared me to him and his rad wife)

One of my very favorite things about Maker Faire is getting to meet so many of my "Internet/Blog" friends in person. I was thrilled to meet Cathe Holden of Just Something I Made. She had her whole family with her, and they were awesome. Cathe was about a million times nicer and more wonderful than I could have imagined. (which reminds me that the only downside to Maker Faire is leaving and wishing I could hang out with these people all the time!)

Me 'n Moxie! Y'all. This woman is really a gem of a human being. The first time I met her in person (at last year's Maker Faire) I came around a corner and almost bumped in to her. When I realized who I was looking at, I balled up my fists, squeezed my eyes shut and squealed like a 4-year-old. This is the effect she has on me. She's one of the most patient teachers I've ever seen, and gives like nobody's business. I. Adore. Her.

Ahhhh yes, conjuring up memories of Maker Faire always makes things better.