Tuesday, September 29, 2009

1 Year: Paper

I blogged before that lately, I've been doing more wedding related books. This is through no effort of my own, but people just wanting books for their special day with maps of a special place. It's been fun.

This month I had a special request for a custom journal with a map of Iceland on it. Turns out, it was for a one year anniversary, and was a gift from a husband to his wife. The traditional one year gift should be made of paper, and this husband wanted a book of Iceland because that was where their honeymoon had been. I thought that was so sweet; a place to remember a wonderful trip, or plan a return trip. What a great idea.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Last Week: The Recap

Last week was a break from my regular life, a week I've been referring to as my U2 extravaganza. The friend who was my partner in crime on this week, Ali, cheekily referred to it as her "holy week." Just as we've been doing together since 1992, we saw our favorite band mulitiple times, 3 to be exact.

The highlight was Wednesday. For the first time ever, we decided to give the General Admission tickets a try. In the past we avoided them for a variety of reasons, but this year we decided to give it a go. We arrived at Giants Stadium at 8am with plenty of provisions and were numbers 119 and 120 in line. The waiting paid off, we ended up in the inner circle, a mere 10 feet from the band. It was amazing to see them that close.

While in the inner circle, I had this moment of being so happy, giddy really. Here I was at 34, doing the same thing I was doing at 16, with the same friend. What's even more important, is that we both still have the same crazy excitement for it. We don't feel jaded or cynical, or bored with having heard them plenty of times before, it still makes us just as excited every time. Somehow on a Wednesday night, in the middle of a year that's been really stressful for me, I was feeling giddy with excitement and sharing it with the friend I've been sharing it with since 1992. What could be better? (Here's a photo of us on the last night, I love how we both look pretty exhausted.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Potential Sewing Project

I was in high school during the early 90s when grunge had a huge impact on fashion. I won't get into the different high school cliques and who wore what, but let's just say that I fell into the category that wore jeans every day and placed a high level of importance on t-shirts. What sucks is that all the t-shirts I have from that era (a lot of which are cool) are size XL! This wasn't because I actually fit into an XL, but because it was fashionable to wear everything HUGE!

This brings me to my dilemma, I have some super cool U2 t-shirts circa Zoo TV tour that I would love to wear. Yesterday, I tried to take one in simply, but realized it'll take a little more work. I pretty much need to take it apart, cut a few inches off, and sew it together again.

Let's see if I'm inspired to do this tomorrow to prepare for the 2 shows I'm going to in NJ this week. Above photo is the shirt I have from the 2005 tour, which I wear often, and the shirt from 1991, which I just resurrected from a box of shirts in my parents basement. (Keep in mind my actual body size hasn't changed much.)

(By the way, last night's show was awesome!)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Weekend Awesomeness

This weekend is going to be filled with awesomeness. To start with, tonight is the grand opening party at Craftland. Get on over there between 5 and 9 for some crafty fun.

Saturday is the Providence Open Market and the weather should be great for it this weekend. Stop by and say hi, I'll be sharing a booth with the talented Heather Jeany. Lippit Park also hosts the Farmer's Market, so pick up a hot apple cider and make your way over to buy some handmade goodness. After a little siesta, head into town for a Waterfire. We all know that autumn is the best season for Waterfire, so don't miss it!

Sunday is pretty much the highlight for me, I'm going to see U2! U2 is pretty much my favorite band ever and I pretty much turn into a 15 year old whenever anything U2-related is going on. I'll be seeing them Sunday up here, then Wednesday and Thursday in New Jersey. Next week I'll do a serious U2 posting to tell you how it was, but for now know that Sunday night I'll be in my happy place loving life.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Craftland Grand Opening Party

There's a lot going on this weekend, so I'm going to start telling you about them now while there's enough time for you to change your plans to go to them!
Friday night is the Grand Opening party of the new Craftland. The party starts at 5pm and goes until 9pm with a handmade (of course) pinata being cracked open at 8pm in Grant's Block. Take your turn swinging a large stick for a chance to get some coupons, gift cards and other surprises from Craftland and other local businesses.
Not sure what kind of awesomeness resides at Craftland? See some examples here and here. Also, you can walk through the brand new gallery to see the current exhibit, Boys of Summer. All this, plus Narragansett beer, wine, snacks, and a cheese log. Don't miss it! Located on Westminster Street at the corner of Union Street. Look for the sparkly, handmade banner!

Monday, September 14, 2009

My First Quahog

This December will mark my 11th year being a Rhode Islander. While that is staggeringly difficult for me to believe, what's even more difficult to believe is the fact that until yesterday, I'd never had a quahog. I came home wondering what exactly a quahog was. I ordered a quahog, but then was delivered a stuffie. So are these two words interchangeable? If not, what's the difference?
A little digging and I learned that quahog is a large chowder clam, and technically can also be used to describe littlenecks and cherrystones; but that Rhode Islanders do use the term quahog and stuffie interchangeably. When seen on a menu, it's safe to assume that the quahog will be served as a stuffie, which means the freshly shucked clam is chopped up or ground and mixed into a stuffing, which typically includes bread crumbs, Tabasco sauce, onions, celery, pepper and often chourico. It's then stuffed back into the clamshell and baked. I had my version at Iggy's, along with another Rhode Island classic, a doughboy (basically fried dough with powdered sugar).
I also learned that the quahog is the official shellfish of the Ocean State (who knew we had one), and that Rhode Island supplies 1/4 of the country's supply of quahogs, not bad for the smallest state!
I'm not a huge seafood eater, which I never thought odd until I moved to Rhode Island, but since moving up here I give things a try and am often surprised to discover I like a lot of it. The quahog was surprisingly tasty, but then again, what doesn't taste good when eaten on the coast with your feet in the sand?? Only wished I had a beer to wash it down, a 'Gansett perhaps?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Autumn Open Market

The Providence Open Market kicks off tomorrow for its fall season. Hopefully it won't rain, or if it does, hopefully it gets postponed. I'll be there with some great handmade books, and some brand new cards that I've added to my collection. My small handwoven cards will be there, as well as some map ones that I haven't posted anywhere online yet, so come see them in person!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tiny Weavings

A while ago I had posted about these tiny little weavings that I had uncovered. I made them years ago on a thin little warps. (The photo above is on a 60/2 cotton warp, and the other ones were on a 20/2 cotton warp.) I was trying to figure out what to do with them and finally decided to keep it simple and and make them into cards. I lightly glued each one down onto some card stock and paired them with coordinating envelopes. I like how they look. Some have 2 per card, and some (like the one above) only have one. I listed the first one in my shop yesterday, we'll see how they do. I'm trying to slowly start working textiles into my Etsy shop. I hoping to slowly start adding more textiles to my shop, yet I also want to try and stay true to the look of my shop.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Slow Start

I've getting off to a slow start this week. I was in New Jersey over the weekend visiting with family and today have been slow getting back into the groove. I did get some stuff done, like buying tickets for my annual trip to see Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (photo above) in December and I sewed a stack of books for this weekend's craft show, so it wasn't a total loss.

Tomorrow I will be back into the normal swing of things, I promise!

Thursday, September 3, 2009


My first warp is off already! I had kept it short, to get myself weaving and to get some instant gratification. Yesterday I finished weaving and cut it off the loom. I wove 2 placemats, little borders and plain on the inside and then decided to use up some bobbins.
I realized that pretty much all the bobbins I had were full of yarn, some of them with yarn I don't even have the cone of anymore. (I had donated a bunch of yarn to RISD a few years ago in a move.) I decided that to use up the yarn, I would do a series of studies, using just the neutral yarns that I had and experiment with mixing them. For structure, I used a crowfoot, also known as a 4 harness satin. It pretty much used up some of the bobbins and the rest of the warp.
Just cut off the loom.

The studies I did to chose the yarn for the borders of the placemats. I chose the green, which is a chenille twisted with some slubs.

Neutral studies

And another neutral study

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


This past week I've been putting my loom to work for me. In keeping with my original plan of doing something fast and easy, just to get me going, I decided to weave 2 placemats. I didn't allow myself much in terms of design elements. I just wanted a border on each side, and I wanted the center to be a simple weave structure. In this case, I used an 8 harness satin for the border, and wove with an interesting textured yarn. Then for the center I used the same yarn for the weft that I had used for the warp (8/3 mercerized cotton), and wove in a simple basket weave (or I guess it was technically a rib, I had 2 ends working together, but only 1 pick).

Weaving the simple center section of the placemats. My selvedges are less than perfect, but this is just to warm up, right?

Weaving! Yay! I push on the treadles with my feet, which lift up certain ends and a shed opens (see the shed) then I pass the shuttle carrying the weft (which is wound onto a bobbin) from one side to the other.

Then I bring the reed forward, pushing the weft yarn into the body of the fabric. This is also referred to as beating.

Look, fabric!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Serizawa: Master of Japanese Textile Design

Having my loom back up and in use, has me feeling inspired about textiles again and going through some of my favorite books. One of those books is an exhibit catalog, Serizawa, Master of Japanese Textile Design, that I picked up in September 2001 from an exhibit at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. I still remember how beautiful the exhibit was and the exhibit catalog is on my list of books I'd save in a fire. Not only is the content gorgeous, but the book itself is stunning.

Serizawa Keisuke (1895 – 1984) was a Japanese textile designer who in 1956 was given the title of Living National Treasure (or Holder of an Important Intangible Cultural Property as they call it in Japan) for his contribution to the textile dyeing technique known as kataezome. This technique involves using paper stencils to apply a rice-paste resist to a fabric. The fabric is dyed, then washed of the resist to reveal the design. Historically, each part of this process was done by a different artisan; one would design and cut the stencil, another would apply the resist design to the fabric, and another would dye it. Serizawa did all three himself and revived the art in the twentieth century.

A little background (summarized from the book), he first dreamed of becoming a professional artist, but was forced to take design classes in order to support his family. In his early 30s, he met Yanagi Soetsu, a man who made a spiritual journey through East Asia and developed a keen sense of the importance of traditional handicraft. He placed great value on the unknown craftspeople who made ordinary objects works of beauty. Based on these values, he invented the term mingei (literally “people’s art”) and worked to promote these ideals through writings and teachings. Serizawa was immediately attracted to these ideas. Around the same time he also saw an exhibit of stencil-dyed textiles from Okinawa, and soon thereafter he began to learn this technique. Mingei artists worked toward having objects that presented “the beauty that comes from everyday familiarity, the beauty of health and strength, the beauty of serviceability, the beauty of objects that move in harmony with their user’s movements, the beauty of tradition, and the beauty of honesty and solidity.”

Serizawa’s work is varied, he designed many different types of objects, such as kimonos, screens, book covers, flags, fans, tablecloths, the list goes on and on. In addition to his highly prized original pieces, he also worked to have his designs used in everyday objects such as fans and incense wrappers. His attention to detail is apparent in every example of his work and his perfection of this craft is remarkable and awe inspiring.

While flipping through this book, I decided to do a quick Google search and learned that there will be an exhibit of his work in New York City at the Japan Society from October 9 – January 17! I definitely won’t be missing this exhibit and anyone with a love of textiles should definitely try to get to it.

A quick description of the kataezome technique (in a very small nutshell):

  • Step 1: Cut the stencil
  • Step 2: Apply a silk netting to preserve the detailed cutting and prevent the stencil from curling.
  • Step 3: Make the paste
  • Step 4: Position the stencil on the cloth and apply the paste
  • Step 5: Apply the color to the paste-free areas
  • Step 6: Wash the fabric to remove the excess dye and the paste
  • Step 7: Dry the cloth