Knotty goodness

Today is the second day of the Houston Fiber Fest, and I’m going to scope it out and hopefully join the group of very talented and well-curated vendors in 2017. 

I am learning how to dye roving and yarn, but most of my experiments have been for my own use. Hopefully I find a good vendor for fleece and yarn this year. I am hoping that I can get most of it in Texas.

But, for today, I’ll just swap some stitch markers and hope for the best!


Lately I haven’t posted much, lazing around on Instagram instead. 

Tl;dr : holy crap!! I’m left handed, but I just figured out I can write just fine with my right hand, too! 

My new activity is calligraphy/hand lettering. If finding new reasons to buy art supplies was a competitive sport, I could quit my day job and hang out at Texas Art Supply all day long.  I’ve been stalking pens, nibs, ink, and paper over the last two weeks, and falling down the rabbit hole. 
I’m a lefty, but have a bit of right-handed inclinations since I’ve been mousing as a designer over 20 years with my right hand. Over that many years, a lefty designer’s right hand can gain advantages of hand/eye coordination that can’t really be grasped until one tried it out. 

“Switch Hitter” was written with my right hand first attempt since maybe high school…?  

Maybe I can actually do a little bit of lettering on the future for some dough. Or, my favorite- for bartering. Not really a post-apocalyptic skill, but handy.




I just needed to sew something.

We spent all day today waiting for tropical storm Bill to whip his flooding outer bands by the house as expected, but were underwhelmed. The day school was closed, so we spent the day watching PBS and singing kid songs, playing chase, and kicking the soccer ball during the World Cup. 

Just to make sure I hadn’t forgotten how to sew, I made myself a cozy mat for my bedside table for my phone and iPad. I’m going to gift the other one. I hope it’s big enough!

Just a little place to keep phone, glasses, ipad.

Shedquarters – under construction.

For a while I have enjoyed watching people reduce their space and belongings in the Tiny House movement, through various blogs and posts on various social media – Pinterest/Facebook, etc.  I long to have so few things, but as with any other crafty lady, we know that is far too simple an existence for me.

Since there is not a single craft activity that I won’t try at least once (quilling=YIKES), I have adopted many supplies for the craftpocalypse. Linoleum, epoxy, earring hooks, wool roving, ink, markers, pencils, paper, and other supplies that are more quickly exhausted (fabric and yarn), litter my house and office where I make my real-job money in marketing and graphic design.  I have a luxurious IKEA setup called something like püterhoard or machmarspayes… I forget.  The desk extends along the entire far wall of my office, and turns the corner where my rotating pen holder and my mac + monitor setup.  Within leaning distance, I have a 4′ tall drawer unit that holds paper and a too-large collection of USB devices.

My sewing machine resides on the right side of the desk and is usually workable in the space, but while it’s highly functional, this space is not really inspiring.  There are two windows in the room, and it’s pretty cavernous.  I love cavernous, but not when I am making jewelry or working with stinky things like metal polish or resin.

Eventual Outcome

Eventual Outcome

After a creatively recharging trip to a retreat in New Hampshire last year, I realized that I wanted to have a messy space where i can make noise with metal, use my lathe, reupholster things and other activities that require earplugs and adequate ventilation.  Many of the smaller homes in Houston like mine have backyard sheds and single car driveways and garages. So, the yard tools live in the shed, for now.  Soon, they’ll be neatly hung in the garage to make room for my air conditioned shedquarters / craft shack / lady cave.

Deconstruction and reconstruction have begun.  Courtesy of Bobby Johnson, builder extraordinaire.

  • "Hey look!! A window!"  The installer and I marveled.
    “Hey look!! A window!” The installer and I marveled.
  • Removing the lower 4" of old cedar siding.
    Removing the lower 4″ of old cedar siding.
  • Phase 1 complete
    Phase 1 complete
  • industrial spray insulation - from a client
    industrial spray insulation – from a client
  • Application of Mascoat DTI
    Application of Mascoat DTI

I’m not that into weddings.

Yes.  Not that into weddings. Unless they concern my friends, then I get all excited and weepy.

Again, my pal Sara enlisted my help on her path to wedded bliss – her bridal headpiece.

She asked me if I could make her something super-simple and classic to go with a wedding dress that was WAY better than my own, with a sassy tea-length, lovely short sleeves, and just enough applique action. The look was finished with sapphire blue d’orsay pumps accented with brooch accents.

I am not a milliner in any official way.  But I embarked on an adventure of materials and shaping methods that was fun, and also motivated by a timeline of delivery.  I learned of buckram – a stiff foundation fabric that is addictively sculptable.  I used 100% wool to line over the buckram for the softness to the shape, and then completed the body by hand-sewing stretch taffeta over all the layers of wool.

After that was complete, I added the birdcage tulle.  That was the most difficult step and i had to consider position on her head for how far the tulle extended. I was happy that it came out with a welding-helmet-esque shape, and did not pull off eyelashes or lipstick.  WIN.


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  • Layers of wool for soft shaping
    Layers of wool for soft shaping
  • Before the wool is sewn down
    Before the wool is sewn down
  • Domed Center
    Domed Center
  • View of structure from beneath
    View of structure from beneath
  • Packaged for pickup
    Packaged for pickup
  • final hat shape
    final hat shape
  • Sara and her dad
    Sara and her dad
  • pre-launch texts
    pre-launch texts

Lastly, I got to do a couple of hand-lettered signs for cards and the sign-in table.  I really loved providing this service.  Please hire me for this – I could do it ALL DAY!

  • sign-in-sign-wedding-handlettered
  • cards-sign-wedding-handlettered


Confession: I’m a sap for engagement photos.

A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to photograph the most compatible couple I know.  They were made for each other.

I’ve known Sara for over 17 years, and Robert since they met.  Sara’s like a sister to me, and is one of only a few brutally honest, treasured friends that I have.  They don’t come along often.  I felt like these photos really show how silly they are together, and how much they’ve blended their spirits.


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  • Sara_Robert_Eng_7047
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  • Sara_Robert_Eng_7091
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  • Sara_Robert_Eng_7080

Which workspace would you like?

When you want to start a sewing project, you get excited about a new fabric, or the buttons or zippers or thread! No one gets excited about cleaning up their space. Me, especially. Except for when I am organizing to start a new project.

I took a picture of my workspace when I just got up in the middle of the project to run and get a drink. Maybe. 5 minute gap. Total mess. But, I was in the zone and didn’t need to put everything in its place, etc.

  • This is why my sewing table looks like when I get up for 30+ minutes, or to go to bed.
    This is why my sewing table looks like when I get up for 30+ minutes, or to go to bed.
  • This is how my workspace looks when I stop to get a quick snack or beverage, or if I have to run to the restroom.
    This is how my workspace looks when I stop to get a quick snack or beverage, or if I have to run to the restroom.

If you haven’t finished a project and you have to leave it to go to bed, or to go eat a meal, remind yourself where you are by putting a quick post-it on your work that tells you where to pick up, and clear off the stray threads and scraps so that you can just jump in again. It’s a lot more fun to walk up to an organized space and start immediately, than spend the first minutes of your crafty time trying to clean up and then remember where you left off!

Let me know how that works for you – drop by on Facebook.

Buy fabric online, Not just the fabric store!

I will be the first to admit that when I arrive at my neighborhood JoAnn in the Bunker Hill shopping center, that they greet me by name, in almost a “NOOORM!” way that the patrons did on Cheers, in the 80’s.  I do like to peruse the latest contest winners on, and wanted to share a few other online sites that sell some great designs from really talented designers.  Here is a brief list.

1. Fabricworm – they have a great collection, and it is always changing. You can get organics here as well, along with varying textile weights.  They have nice promotions, if you hang around and subscribe to their newsletter.  My favorite designer here is Lotta Jansdotter.  I say yes to everything she creates – she’s like the design fairy.

2. Pink Castle Fabrics – They have a lot going on that is exciting. Easily searchable like FabricWorm, by designer, material, and collection.  They also have a couple of sewing camps that look very fun!  Or – you can treat yourself and subscribe to the monthly fabric clubs, and get a bundle of fat quarters or half yards for less than $50 a month.

3. Stash Fabrics – Stash has quite a few really unique designs that made me stop and look: A Patty Young Collection called Just My Type. So cute – includes type keys and some letterpress-inspired designs. Also, a pretty mix of line art and color in Patio Lights. Their canvas collection is small, but for apparel, I would definitely start here for the online fabric stores.

I am going to keep looking, but wanted to tuck these away for my students, to get them started shopping online, if they wanted to go further than around the corner.

Photojojo Petzval Lens

I just found out today that Petzval Lens is available from Photojojo!

  • Nifty swag
  • Aperture discs
  • See!?  Dreamy.
  • Sample shots
  • Sexy Beast.

I’ve been watching this project through the Kickstarter Campaign that was launched in 2013.  There is a lot of really fascinating history behind this lens, and the treats that came to the backers of a 1000% funded goal were amazing.  I would have liked to have been a part of it, but was binging on other lenses at the time.  Now yours for only $599, its a very nice addition to a DSLR arsenal.  Apertures are manually switched out for ethereal bokeh and super tight depth of field.

Buyers get the lens along with: A Petzval book, 7 standard aperture plates, 4 experimental aperture plates, a cleaning cloth, leather storage pouch and a brass lens cap.  FAQs confirm that it is heavy, but SO worth it.



Why I work with kids.

Kids. These. Days.

During the most dreamy, colorful, and creative years of their lives – toddlerhood to teenagers, kids have so few responsibilities other than learning how to be good humans.  They typically don’t have mortgages or car payments, and they don’t think about how the roof is getting old and needs to be replaced.  They think up games and glue things together, and play with their food.  They laugh loudly.

All that is on the agenda is creativity, learning, and fun.
Their minds are the sharpest these years, and it is up to us parents to squish as many stories, songs, outings, projects, experiences, skills, love, etc. into their little high-powered brains as we can.  Yet, sometimes they just want someone to pay attention and talk to them.

Kids keep you young.
To engage with them cleans out the clogs of issues in our minds and it sometimes makes us see that the little things are most important. That is why I started teaching kids how to sew.