Thursday, November 19, 2009

finally...

I'm back! I've missed you California. First major stop: Joann's. Never thought I would say this but I felt like I died and went to heaven. Nick, the kiddies and I are together again after 4.5 long months. I can't wait to get my crafting juices flowing again and to update my shop. I had to bail out of the hug-able luv-able exhibition this year due to some postal issues but I hope I will be invited to participate next year.

Hope to have some craftiness to share with you guys soon!

xo

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

a little bag for a little boy

"I love clouds mummy. And I love rain."
"Why do you like the clouds and rain, little C?"
"Because I am English!!"

Made for my all of a sudden grown up, soon to be 4 year old little boy. Who started preschool 5 days a week yesterday. To be hung on his hook at school.
Made of cotton and wool, hand embroidered with split stitches, raindrops filled with polyfill.
He loves it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

love at first sight


I had a nice suprise waiting for me in the garden yesterday.


A 70's vintage Bernina Record 830, on loan from a friend. And it weighs a TON. It is so lovely to work with such a solid machine, very advanced for it's time and so unbelievably quiet and smooth.

I went to a fabric store in London last week and found some small floral quilting cotton for a littlest C's quilt. I want to try and tackle a twin size quilt for her, inspired by the lovely Pip Studio. The biggest quilt I have made is a cot size so wish me luck on this one. I am still undecided on prewashing vs. no prewashing. I usually always prewash but I will include some precut liberty squares that are unwashed..would love to hear what you do.

I visited Liberty as well. What a treat to see and feel those lovely tana lawns. Picked up a large remnant for my stash. I loved the vintage look and the yellow and dark greys together.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

English seaside

Hello friends. Thank you all so much for your sweet comments regarding my last post; they meant a lot to me and motivated me to get my creative mojo back too. Now if only my borrowed singer would stop acting up!
It looks like we are likely to stay here until late October for sure, and we will probably know by the beginning of next month whether we are here for good or not for the next few years. Little C will start at a great nursery (preschool) on Friday, he is very excited and best of all it's FREE!!! Considering how hard it is to get him into a decent preschool back home, this is a strong selling point for staying.

We managed to get to the Hampshire coast for a mini break before the end of the summer. Lots of time at the beach and walking along the coastline. This is the first time I have seen the English coast on a beautiful sunny day and the sea was a breathtaking aqua blue.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

there is hope for me afterall



I feel as if I have been in creative hibernation; the unproductive kind. It's been so long since I have picked up a pencil, paper and drafted a new pattern. Or since I've sewn anything really. I miss making my bear girls and wonder if I can even sew. Missing all my crafting material back home. Self doubt about my creative abilities. Do you ever feel like this?

When an inspiration or a design idea hits me, my wheels start churning and sometimes I can't even sleep well. I don't usually sketch my ideas first (not a good idea!), I just start cutting out pattern pieces and usually have to tweek it a few times before it looks vaguely acceptable. This is where for me I find plush making to be challenging. Flat pieces or ideas sketched can look so different once stitched and stuffed. Even the way it is stuffed can alter it's appearance quite a bit. Having the discipline to complete each version and give it a decent chance before I bin it takes a lot patience and I find this the most difficult part. Once I feel a pattern is complete the feeling is amazing. I get so excited about making them in the right fabrics, with all the little details that make each piece special.
This has happened to me a few days ago. I have been invited to particpate in an exhibit this year (more on that later) and it forced myself out of this hibernation and I think I'm pretty happy with my new plush sculpture. It is to be called "hunted fox" and she will adorn a little cloak scattered with leaves which will help camouflage and blend her into the forest. It still needs a bit of work, ears to be designed, complete hair embroidery on legs and the cloak needs to be designed and stitched but I'm pretty happy with the way she turned out. I hope you like her too.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

done and dusted


I finally finished my first ever mohair teddy bear. Well almost. I'm still waiting for black embroidery floss so I can add claws. I have been really wanting to make for one for some time, and have several pieces of mohair back at home, some even hand dyed but I was always either too busy with the shop or afraid to cut into the expensive fabric. As I do not have any of my sewing/crafting supplies here (even yarn and needles) it's become the perfect craft project for me. I ordered the kit from here and just held my breath as I cut into the beautiful mohair fabric. A friend kindly lent me her mother's old singer and so I used a combination of machine sewing and hand sewing. I realized at the beginning of the project that I did not have a seam ripper and had a mild panic, but managed to finish her without needing it once! Not perfect but pretty good considering. Making her made me wonder just how teddy bear artist can take all the abuse your hands and fingers suffer while making one after another. Even turning the cotter pins in all the joints took quite a bit of effort and my hands were sore for a couple of days. So fun though and I can't wait to draft a new pattern with a more triangular head and slightly longer and thinner muzzle like the old vintage bears of the early 1900s.

I missing home and Nick. And I even miss Joann's! I miss being able to drive for 10 minutes and grabbing a whole load of notions for half off. Craft supplies kind of suck here in Cambridge and I am bit down about that. But thank you for the suggestion of heading down to Shepard's Bush in London for fabric. I have an appointment with Embassy this coming Friday and will spend the morning there. I've done some reading on the area and it sounds really promising.

We have had a really hot heatwave here in the UK a couple of weeks ago and the thunder flies were out in full force, I mean crawling in your ears, face and everything. So glad that's over!

Hope you all have a wonderful Sunday. xo

Monday, June 29, 2009

extended stay

It's been about a month and a half since my last post. How awful. Thank you for your helpful suggestions on flying to the UK with two young children. We managed to survive the flight without any disasters. I went to Cost Plus and loaded up on little toys and got a bunch of coloring books and crayons too. Turned out that we didn't really use much of these on our flight out since the flight was at 5:30pm and once the initial excitement wore off, it was bedtime for them anyway. I have learned a couple of lessons though. First, the car seat decision. We went back and forth on whether we should install a carseat on the plane for our 3.5 yr. old son. I must have read a dozen forums on this topic. We decided to take the carseat for him and since our DD was a lap baby didn't need one, we strapped his car seat onto our carry-on bag and put her in it for getting around in the airport. She loved being in it and she usually hates the stroller. This freed us up considerably and since our car seat is the Radian and it is quite narrow, we would have had no problems getting through the airplane aisle. Once we got to the gate, we were still debating whether to take it on board or not. I have read that most parents don't use a car seat on the plane once their child is 3.5 or over. I didn't see anyone else with a car seat either. So we decided to gate check it. Big mistake. Poor little man was pretty uncomfortable sleeping in his seat. Because there is no crotch strap, he kept slipping down the seat which put his neck in a really awkward position. And since he is not used to sleeping in my arms, he didn't feel comfortable sleeping on me either. We were also in the bulkhead aisle which meant that the arm rests don't go up so he couldn't lie across two seats. If we had to do it again, I would definitely take the car seat on. Our daughter was fine in the infant seat and although she only really slept for 4 hours, she was pretty content to wake up, smile and doze off again.

Double flowering Poppy in our garden

Life has been really wonderful for the last month. Weather in England has been brilliant and it is really really lovely to see both of them enjoy my mother in law's great big garden. I have been sleeping in most mornings and Jenn (my MIL) takes them out quite a bit so Nick (my husband) and I have had a lot of time to ourselves in Cambridge. It's been really lovely. I don't even remember the last time we had a day to ourselves. We also went into London and I went to the Cloth House which I really was looking forward to. I only bought some yardage of dark navy purple gingham because the fabrics there wereon these super long bolts and since I mostly make dolls now I felt a little awkward asking for less than a 1/4 of a metre. But they had the most amazing cotton velveteen I have ever seen. I couldn't believe it was cotton, it was so soft. Only downer of the day was that Nick and I missed the last off peak train out of London and it cost us an additional 29 pounds. That's right, 29 pounds so if you tally up what we paid for the off peak return tickets and the additional 29, it costs us 120 dollars to go into London and back to Cambridge. I was in total shock. Apparently, England's rail system is the most expensive in Europe. I guess I won't be going into London again for a while!

News to share with you is that I'm still here. With the kids but minus Nick. During our absence, we finally managed to sell the house back in the bay area. We decided that it would be best if he went home alone to sort out the house because, well I'm sure most of you know how hard it is to get anything done with two little munchkins. That was a hard decision. We have never been apart for more than a week during the 8 years we have been together. Seeing them so contented and happy here, to take them home where they would be couped up indoors most days while we scramble to get everything packed seemed so unfair. And....one of the things we really started to entertain for the last few weeks is the possibility of us moving to the UK. Life in England is starting to appeal to me. And to him a little. Don't get me wrong, I love living in California and I've been there for 20 years plus but the sad state California is in at the moment is really making us think deeply about where we want to for the next few years. In England our son would have free preschool in a highly regarded school. We would all have free health care. Plus we would be close to Nick's parents who have missed out on so much of our children's lives. If we do end up in Cambridge, I would even have access to a Korean and Chinese store so I would still be able to cook Asian dishes. The pros are piling up and I'm starting to imagine a little life out here for us. I would miss my family and friends like mad though. And since I have quite afraid of flying, seeing them regularly would be a bit of challenge. And the biggest con would be: fabric.
Yes, fabric. Why the heck is fabric so expensive here? I almost fell over backwards when I saw a bolt of Windham quilting cotton in John Lewis for $23 a metre. What the??

A little alley in Devizes. I went to an amazing antique and collectible shop

Anyway, I am planning on having some of my fabric and notions sent here from home and I have managed to borrow a sewing machine. I am really missing sewing right now. I've got so many ideas and projects in my head dying to be made. Does anyone know how I would go about sending a big box here? I am figuring that USPS, FedEx and UPS are too expensive but I can't google any US parcel delivery services here. I keep getting UK companies.


In the meanwhile, I will be working on a mohair teddy bear. Something I have wanted to make for a long time.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

news...

I hope all you mothers out there had the best day ever. I didn't get to sleep in because that is an absolute impossibility with two babes laughing and hollering but I had a wonderful home cooked dinner:

We went hiking up in the woods where the air and smell of the forest was just heavenly. My little one making one of her funny faces:


Nothing on the shop front but I am working really hard on an order for HIJKIDS (sorry it's late Kristine!). I don't do wholesale or large orders but made an exception for a lovely friend and her sweet online shop:


Hopefully these girls will be in her hands by late May because...we will be going to the UK in 10 days time!! This was sort of a last minute thing and the thought of flying, and flying with two young children is making me really nervous but I am so excited. We haven't been for about 2.5 years and this will be the first time for the littlest.

Can't wait for:

: going into the center of Cambridge (we are staying at my in-laws, in a quaint little village outside Cambridge)
: a full english breakfast
: topshop
: thrift finds at oxfam shops
: real bangers and mash
: FISH AND CHIPS!!
: sleeping in (my MIL is the best! truly!)
: pint of real ale
: mini trip to London
: fabric shopping - where i can pick up some liberty fabric
: the best indian food - outside India
: visiting stately homes
: lovely countryside and wild little rabbits
: English yogurt and bread
: visiting husband's extensive network of family and friends

Which means my little shop will be closed for June but I will continue blog posts with hopefully some photos of our little trip. Does anyone have any tips for air travel with 2 young ones? We decided not to buy a seat for our 16 month old as British Airways has a infant seat thing that they attach to the bassinet table. Hope I don't regret that decision.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Today's update

Here are some photos of what will be in my shop today, at 1PM Pacific Time:











Hope to see you there!

xo

Friday, April 24, 2009

Birthday presents and Sunday

I whipped up a couple of presents for my son's classmates last week. First is a little messenger satchel for a 3 year old boy



a set of wooden country girls for his 4 year old sister made from Alicia's kit I bought last year



This plus more sick kiddies so not much work done lately. I thought about delaying the shop update again but decided to go ahead with a small update this Sunday, the 26th at 1PM pacific time with two nature bear girls and maybe a birdie. The bear girls prices have increased a bit too, to account for the many hours and care taken to create each one. I know how times are tough for everyone these days, so I am very sorry about this and thank all of you for your support. Hopefully some opened eye girls in early May.


Happy Friday!

Monday, April 13, 2009

shop delay

I hope all of you had a wonderful Easter. Just a short post to let you all know I will be delaying my shop update to the 26th..I have some last minute birthday gifts I am needing to whip up for this weekend. Please check back for exact time.

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 10, 2009

on my desk


Or bed, actually. I Just got over a horrendous head cold and now feeling like tackling the piles of cut cloth on my desk.

On a different note, does anyone use a wacom tablet with a mac? I can't decide on a intuos 4 or a bamboo. I know the intuos 4 is supposed to be really great but at about 2x the cost, I am trying to convince myself that the bamboo would be sufficient for illustration work.

have a nice Friday!

xo

Saturday, April 4, 2009

linen bag for your wee collectors


My son loves to collect all sorts of goods he finds on his daily walks. Pine cones, flowers, interesting shaped leaves, rocks, feathers and the occasional bug here or there. So I had a collector bag on my to-do list and I'm so pleased with the way it turned out. I used a medium weight linen fabric and wool/cashmere blend for the outside and a cotton canvas lining to make it sturdy but lightweight. And a little "secret stash" pocket on the inside. I couldn't help adding a sweet little felt bunny on it. Not so appropriate for my son who told me in disgust "that's a girl's bag!! Oops! better get working on another sans bunny real soon.


He was still a sport and modeled the bag for you.

The two kiddies rooming together is going really well btw. Thank you all for your suggestions and support! Since my daughter was moved into my son's blue room, I felt their room needed something. It's kind of a challenge decorating a boy/girl room. I whipped up a fabric bunting which was inspired by Ella; Jimin hung it over her kitchen entry doorway...I loved the petite size of the flags and the combo of fabrics.



The bias trim I made to attach the flags was a bit thick so I was a bit stumped on how I should attached it to her wall. I decided to stitch the ends into a loop using embroidery floss with a little "x". Neat and simple. Perfect.


I realized today that my last shop update was in January!! Sorry about the shop being empty for so long. My next update will be on April 19th. I plan to have bear girls, some birdies and the little bags mentioned above. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

machine sketching

Today I made a couple of pouches, a nice break from plush. Instead of hand embroidery, I used the sewing machine to sketch the Eames inspired rocking chair applique. I've love the machine sketching created by Cathy Cullis (everything she creates is just amazing) and I've been wanting to try that for some time. I'm not sure whether I will list these for the shop; I may hold on to them in case I apply for the San Francisco Renegade fair this summer. The beautifully soft wool/cotton beige plaid fabric I used for the chair pouch is from a fabric store I went to with my dear friend.

front
side

back
pomme pouch

I can't wait to make more.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

rearranging

Hello friends. I am sorry about the long absence. As I mentioned in my last post I had to change focus to a different direction; nothing exciting or big news to share except that we have decided to put our house on the market. If there is one thing I really, really dislike doing, it's packing up and moving house. Throw a couple of kiddies in the mix and you have got a not so fun situation. Getting the house ready for viewings is pretty challenging as the little ones mess up the house as quickly as we get it in order. They have been very patient with the whole situation though, considering we had to downsize their play area quite a bit.

I have not been able to do any sewing for the shop but managed to create a few things here and there for the house. I made some mushrooms to go with two little birdies for the top of their toy shelf using this tutorial.


Really easy to do and it was so gratifying to create something that only takes an hour or so, depending how elaborate your mushroom is. The only little change I made was to use a ladder stitch to connect the stalk to the toadstool top for a neater finish and used wool instead of felt. Instead of buttons for the top, I embroidered little circles. Great little project for your little scraps of fabric. I also made some portrait silhouettes of little ones for their room; I'll post a picture of that next time.


We will miss our little walks, bird watching and the beautiful cherry blossoms trees which have bloomed and already started to fall off. Rain has stopped and I feel my spirits rising..spring is near.


Hopefully I will have a date for my next update soon. My sewing studio has been downsized to a little closet; more pics on that later!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lillian and Jill

Thank you for your comments on the room sharing. I am going to try it tonight and see how it goes. Wish me luck!

I'm putting Lillian and Jill in the shop today. That will be my last update for a few weeks as I am having to change focus to a different direction for a while. More on that later.

Friday, January 23, 2009

hello 2009!

Hello, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and a happy new year! One of my resolutions for this year is to clean up my studio/work area and to be more productive (haha). This is going to be hard as my daughter has taken over my studio and so I am now working in their playroom. You can imagine this is not the best of arrangements and I have to be super diligent with irons, pins, etc. I usually leave a certain number of needles and pins on my pincushion and write that number down on my inspiration board, so I know the minute I have misplaced one.

My daughter is now starting to walk too which is so exciting. Unfortunately I am finding less and less time to create which is hard; I find my sewing time so therapeutic. Which explains why my shop is so empty these days but I am working on a shop update for the end of January.

We are also thinking about putting my 1 year old daughter and 3 year old son together in one room. Thankfully they are both great sleepers now but I'm still really nervous about one waking the other or my son waking her up when he goes down for the night since he likes to end his day by chatting to his bedfellows. Will they fall asleep when they can be hollering and shrieking with glee? No one I know personally has two young children rooming together so I have no input there. I find that a little sad, actually. I had so much fun sharing a room with my little brother when I was a wee one. I would love to hear your experiences.

As for shop updates, I have decided to periodically list individual items on a random basis with update notifications on my blog only and send out individual shop update notices when I have a bigger update. This way I won't be annoying everyone with notices every time I list an item. I am also finding bigger updates to be quite challenging, even with just 6 to 8 items. Hopefully it will get easier as the year rolls on. I leave you with an image of Jersey, who will be landing into my etsy shop this afternoon, PST.

xo