Spring Update

I moved to Los Angeles last summer!  I am now fully absorbed in graduate school, studying animation.  I am almost through my first year, I've finished my first short film, and I'm having a blast.

Though this part of the country has nothing resembling East coast seasons, I've been aching for spring and summer, and I cannot stop drawing rabbits and flowers and pink squiggles all over everything!

I've been very busy, and I've got quite a few projects on the horizon.  Since it's been so long since my last post, I thought I'd break the ice before going into detail about what I've been up to.  Here are some hints, and stay tuned.

Brought to you by: Flowers, magic, boobs, confetti, and the color pink.

A warm welcome!

Today my mother's side of the family was blessed with a tiny addition!

What better day to share the completion of a recent project in my newest cousin's honor.

I try not to hoard, but lately I have realized that my collection of quilting cotton might suggest that I actually make quilts.  Since that was not the case, I decided to give it a try and put some of these vintage prints to good use.  A gift to give is better than a waste of space, and my cousin was expecting a baby!  Perfect!

I have no idea when or where I acquired these adorable bunny prints, but I thought using all three colorways in a simple, repetitive design would allow me to focus on learning the techniques, rather than worry about color matching and themes and all that.  I decided to make the yellow print the center of the design, and to echo it in the border, because we weren't going to know the sex of the baby (but that stuff's all BS anyway, right?  I just like yellow).

You can see in the sketchbook pictured above ^ two variations of the same pattern, just shifted over by one column.  I think it's remarkable how much of a difference it makes visually.  I look at the pattern on the left and I see little diamond shaped units, but the version on the right (which I ultimately chose) seems to extend beyond its border.  Do you agree?

I searched my local library and found a book which I proceeded to fall in LOVE with!  It's called Quilting Step by Step and it answered literally every question I've ever had about how quilting works.  Armed with theoretical knowledge, I dove right in, and within 3 weeks or so (during most of which I was otherwise unemployed)  I had a small quilt! perfectly crib-sized, colorful, soft, and machine-washable!  Anyway, I am pleased, and I'll be making more, I'm sure.  

The off-white triangles in the quilt top are actually a very delicate floral, printed in white on muslin, so it's tricky to see from straight on.  The border and binding are Kona Cotton, in Snow and Curry.  For the backing, I used a lovely, old-fashioned print (I've forgotten the name) that I bought (along with the Kona) from Modern Domestic on Alberta street in Portland, a shop I would highly recommend.  You won't find many bargains there, but you will find plenty of inspiration, high-quality products, and very friendly staff. 

I didn't buy quite enough backing fabric to properly back the quilt in one piece.  That was a dreadfully annoying mistake that I will not be making again.  Other than that, the process was fairly smooth.  I have surmised that constant ironing is essential, that measurements are not, that hand quilting is where it's at, and that none of this takes quite as long as you'd think.  

You can see the white floral here, though the yellow print is more like the eggy color above.

Hand stitching the binding was the most time-consuming part of the process.

If there's a skill you've been dying to learn, why not peruse your library this summer?  Sometimes a good how-to is all you need to get started.  

In conclusion, welcome to the world, kid!  You lucked out on the family front.

Shaping Up

The past few weeks have been very busy.  Organizing, number-crunching, mass-crafting, all things I tend to be a slob about.  I am in for a crash-course in productivity as I realize a long-standing goal- to sell my made things on the internet.  For the past few years, I've found myself falling short of small creative goals.  I've designed Christmas cards and Valentines, but never made them.  I've made those cards, but never sent them!  I've built up quite a cache of designs, unsent things, and good intentions, and honestly, when laid out it seemed like half a business plan.  So I've finally gotten it all together and opened Ghost Wolf Goods!  I am currently selling cards, individually and in boxes, and these fun paper masks!  Each one is made by hand, by me, and they ship fully assembled and ready to wear.  

I personally spend a lot of time browsing Etsy, and there are many sellers I admire, both for their artistry, and their incredible reach and popularity.  Paper goods sellers like Amy Earles and Katharine Watson have been considerable inspiration, and textile artists Jenna Rose and Amelie Mancini make me want to go back to school and study printing.  Perhaps, someday, Ghost Wolf Goods will be that cool.  I'm working on it.

Visit my shop here.

If you're not in the market for some paper goods, you can still support me by sharing the shop or any of my items, on Facebook, pinterest, or instagram.  



new interests

photo 2.JPG

Spring seems to be here already in Portland- and I must admit, I feel a little cheated.  A whole winter without a snowstorm seems unfair.  A lot of exciting crafting has been going on since I last wrote.  The photo above is a shot of the wrong side of my current knitting project.  It's not a huge project, but I'll write about it when it's finished.

I've finally begun to explore quilting!  My sudden enthusiasm is largely due to the inspiring posts and photos on thecraftsessions.com but also to the realization upon reorganizing my studio that I shouldn't allow myself to purchase any more quilting cotton until I have attempted to actually make a quilt.  So attempt I shall!

And finally, I am getting close to actually opening my Etsy shop, which has been brewing for years.  I finally have a stock of goods to sell, and I will go about organizing myself over the next week or so- check back soon for some more news!

Celebrating Important Family Events!

I love weddings.  This past weekend, I attended a gorgeous and pretty elaborate event to celebrate the marriage of my cousin.  It was only the second wedding I've ever attended, and maybe because of that, I had been preparing for months.  What to give? was on my mind from the day they announced their engagement.  

Some of my favorite possessions are linens or tableware that my mother (or Grandmother!) received at their weddings- beautiful, timeless pieces that my family has managed to hold on to.  I don't really have the funds to contribute to a set of silver, so I tend to take the handmade route.  I had a pillow in mind.

I've been collecting embroidery floss for years, but seldom put my skills to the test.  My grandmother embroidered, and taught me the basics when I was young.  I remember a book of Crewel embroidery she showed me, with twisted and antiquated forms of birds, deer and bright, bulbous plants.  She had little patience for dainty things, and her study featured a heavy foot stool upholstered in rough wool, hand stitched by her, in abstract streaks of red-orange and green.

I had recently been inspired by this series of posts by Kate Davies about the Great Tapestry of Scotland, which is truly astonishing in both scale and detail.  It's the result of a generous effort in the spirit of recording history and celebrating ancestry.  The tapestry also displays a collection of native plants and animals as an assemblage of cultural identity, highly connected to the land.  

I decided to ground my design in the land where my cousin met her husband, and where they now live.  I would ring their names in Colorado wildflowers, on a simple decorative pillow they could keep in their home.

The original design was very elaborate, with 6 kinds of flowers packed into a dense wreath.  I didn't know much about choosing materials for this kind of project, but had planned to use a heavy linen for the pillowcase, and settled on Heavy/Rustic linen from Fabrics-store.com.  When it came to transferring the design, I used the lightbox method, holding the fabric up to a bright window, like tracing paper.  This turned out to be nearly impossible due to the "raw" quality of the fabric.  The darker strands show up like a net when backlit.  I ended up just centering the names on the cloth, but decided not to trace every flower's placement onto the fabric.  Thank goodness!!  That decision gave me the freedom to adjust the design as I went along.  I began with Columbine, then Indian Paintbrush, then Asters, then Red Clover.  I ended up with many fewer flowers than I had planned, but I think they needed the room.  

All of the flowers were stitched in DMC Cotton Embroidery Floss, and feature a variety of techniques: split stitch, chain stitch, satin stitch, and french knots, among others.  I looked to needlenthread.com for guidance, encouragement, and inspiration. (I mean, this is ridiculous.)

The very first attempt- these columbines took forever.  The first hint that I'd have to pare down the design

The back of the finished work.  I paid more attention to thread conservation as I went along.

I worked on the lettering last, not sure what colors to use until I saw the flowers finished.  Gold, white, and green were the strongest options, and I settled on a little spool of Belding Corticelli "Pure Silk Twist" in a brilliant gold color.  White and green worked well to define the knot in the arrow, drawing the eye to the center without outshining the names, and white accents gave the lettering an embossed quality, and made them pop off the linen.

I certainly did not expect to finish this project on time, but I found myself, two days before the wedding, with a neat ring of flowers, and all my ends tucked and tied off! (This Never happens.)

Anyway, it was time to break out the sewing machine!

After de-hooping my linen, I gave it a gentle steam-iron from behind, easing out the wrinkles on the edges, and the impression of the hoop.  I worked gingerly around the embroidery ends, and made sure to Avoid The Silk in the center.  High heat can wreck silk, and remove its natural lustre.  The hoop impression lingered, but I'm sure it will ease up over time.  I trimmed the fabric to a 16" square, and cut two halves with ample seam allowance for the back, pulling a few threads from the edges to keep true with the grain.  I gave the back pieces an easy 1" hem (for buttonholes), pinned them overlapping, and pinned the front and back pieces together.  I stitched twice around the whole piece, and bound the eagerly fraying edges with some narrow bias tape.

At the start of this project, I was happy to find a 16" feather-down insert at Crate&Barrel, for only $10.  (It's amazing how expensive these things can be!)  I now gleefully stuffed it into the case, and it was a perfect fit.  There was some rejoicing before I set to making buttonholes.  I marked out three buttonholes at 4" intervals, cut them, and bound them by hand.  I would have happily done this with a machine, but I have a vintage Singer which is limited to a straight stitch.  I sewed on some little silver domed buttons, and that was it.

Here's the finished thing, its handsome front...

...and its cute little bottom!

I was as happy to make it as I was to give it away, and I hope they keep it, like a seal on their home, to remind them how much they are loved.

Congratulations, L&L, and enjoy!