Friday, July 31, 2009

Over The Hill, To Grandmother's House, We Go!

We're off this weekend up the California Coast to Ivan's Grandparent's house!

Packing up now, but wanted to share the Good Folks mama quilt and Wren tote I've been staying up late the past few nights to make. I'm naming the quilt the "mama quilt" for the simple reasons that 1) this mama made it in the rare few hours that she has, so it's a simple patchwork of 9" squares and 2) it's the only pink thing in this house of boys and it's MINE :D!

For the tote, I bought the Anna Marie Horner Drawing Room fabric a few weeks ago and had been agonizing what to do with it, but decided last night at midnight that I should just make something with it or it will sit in my stash forever. It's my first bag, so no close-up pics- wouldn't want anyone to see the sketchy 1AM stitching and all :).

I'm bringing some yummy 3 Irish Girls yarn and knitting needles (since sewing machines don't travel well and Ivan's grandmother not only is the family matriarch, but the source of all things lovely and crafty and may share a tip or three with me), chick lit and a book I've been waiting forever for from the library... The Last Child In the Woods

I received the sweetest package this week from Nicole! Lillpoh magazines and this ever so precious knitted heart! What a lovely gift that is coming with me for inspiration! Thank You!
Ivan is chomping at the bit to get back on the computer so he can finish up his day and we can leave...

Wishing everyone a GREAT weekend!

Much Love, Marina

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

WIP Wednesday- Rainbow Week Continues and The Tale of Two Crowns

What a wonderful coincidence, it's rainbow week and I can also show off the crown that Matteo is getting for his birthday! Now before you all get excited on me... NO, I didn't make this crown. As I was searching Etsy for ideas and supplies, I came across this gorgeous, breathtaking silk/wool wet felted crown made by the immensely talented Susanna Wallis. Even though, I had already bought supplies for Matteo's crown, even though I was already more than halfway finished with it... I just saw this crown and fell in love (I mean, look at those crystals embroidered in the middle of every star... too precious!).

So, I feel like I am punking out a bit on the original crown. I even spent an evening appliqueing trees on one of the side panels- ripping them out almost immediately because, well they just looked so sad. But this is my solution... stay with me here... Last year my best friend wore 2 dresses for her wedding- a beautiful traditional white ballroom wedding dress for the ceremony and then a gorgeous hot pink silk halter dress for the reception... no reason why Matteo can't have 2 crowns for his birthday, right? The rainbow crown can be the special one to be worn for the family dinner every year and the train one can be his special 4th birthday crown he can wear to the party with his friends and year round for play, which also gives me an excuse to make a crown every year that can reflect his interests (as with the trains this year).

Mr Birthday Boy has a pretty good stash of royal goodies coming his way. We got a copy of Ivan's family's coat of arms and I hoping to make an applique of it to put on Matteo's robe and I will finish off the year round crown

I went to the Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco a few weekends ago and picked up some really delectable roving. They both are made with merino wool and silk. The purple/magenta one has pieces of silk sari and the blue/green one has bits of peacock feathers. Inspired by the rainbow crown, I want to make one for my beloved Nico. His birthday isn't until November, but I REALLY wanted to do some wet felting and get my hands on that batting!

I'm still laying down the wool and it is the softest material I have ever laid my hands on! It's like working with gossamer. After some trial and error last week with other pieces, I realized that it takes quite a few layers to get the thickness I want. The mohair roving is going to be embellishments on the crown. I'd like to inlay them into the crown as I wet felt it or I'll needle felt it if the inlay doesn't work.
For those who are interested in trying this at home, the batting (I am working with almost 2 oz) is available from Yeti Yarns and Dry Goods and the mohair roving from Luna Bud Knits. If this works out, I'll post a tutorial... wish me luck :)!

I am very excited to be participating in the the Seasons Round Exchange and have started some of the projects (this is where you, Grace, my swap buddy have to close your eyes if you want to be surprised :) ). Matteo and I needle felted a few acorns.

...more to follow :)

I realize this is probably one the longest posts I've done in ages. Thanks for sticking with me, lovely friends :). Surfing around, there have been some other great projects going on with the WIPsters, go check them out!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Rainbow Monday

I'm celebrating Rainbow Monday with my friends Shelley and Nicole....

Luca's yummy toes and his wooden activity beads

Some mohair roving for a special project in the works...

and of course, some of our favorite toys, the large rainbow stacker and Ostheimer Seven Dwarves

Wishing All A Colorful Week!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wild Kingdom, pt.2

So a few days ago, I was bemoaning our lack of nature. A few hours later, we had a little visitor fly into the house...

She settled herself into my favorite room, my little reading alcove

...simply ask and ye shall receive...

Happy Weekend to All :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

WIP Wednesday- A Few Finished Things

"look at my chompers!"

As I was sorting through our MOUNDS of baby clothes, I found this adorable baby bunting that both Matteo and Nico had worn during the cold weather months. Luca was too small to where it this past winter and will be too big for it in a few months, but I hated the thought of letting it go...

So I took it apart at the seams and separated the quilted lining and left the patchwork body intact. I removed the sleeves, learned how to sew the zipper back on, reattached the hood (because don't all baby sun suits need a cute hood?) and now Luca has a new summer outfit!

Matteo's birthday projects were on hold this week since I was waiting for a few notions to arrive (good thing I started this stuff 8 weeks in advance, right?). But a friend of his had a birthday party this weekend and I had an opportunity to sew with PINK! and FLOWERS!

Matteo did some watercolor painting and I had a picture of his friend for a little handmade birthday card goodness :)

Thanks everyone for the support and encouragement yesterday! Matteo ended up getting sick (nothing major, just a fever) and it was a blessing in disguise as we could all spend the day hanging out in PJ's... I appreciated everyone's suggestions and feel like I've been given the OK to just be...

Love and Light, Marina

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Breathe In, Finding Center, Exhale...

Ever have one of those weeks where you just feel like you can barely catch your breath? Where your life feels like it's on hyperspeed? I feel like I've just hit that wall and am trying to figure out how to s l o w it all down. I'm just craving some calm and quiet. As much as I love our life here in the Bay Area sometimes (um, like about right now) it's all just too much and I fantasize about an alternate reality where we're living in someplace simpler, rural and woodsy.

A place where the kids have space and room to run around in the trees... maybe even a creek to look for tadpoles.
At the creek that runs through the UC Berkeley campus nearby

For me, I'd suddenly sprout a green thumb and could plant a garden that could actually feed us.
From my dad's garden

In the evenings, by the light of the fireplace, cuddled up in quilts that I'd have time to make, we'd all read stories together.
Matteo with the last full size quilt I made circa 1993

My brainy husband could do his work from home and join us for lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup (from aforementioned fantasy garden).

I realize that we've been able to replicate a lot of the elements of my alternalife into our everyday world... maybe it's just up to me to stop the overscheduling and the rush from one place to another. I know I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure the boys are engaged and active. I worry that I'm a slacker mom by not signing them up for swim lessons, soccer camp and music classes, but I know that doing all those activities wouldn't be coming from their own desires, but rather my own insecurities that I should be doing what other Bay Area families do. Still, even without all those activities, I'm feeling burned out from everyday life.

OK, I'm meandering a bit in my thoughts... thank you for allowing me to use this space for contemplation. I'd love to hear how others live... do you feel the pressure? How do you slow yourself (and family) down?


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

WIP Wednesday- Crowns, Royal Robes and a Little Selfish Crafting...

Happy Work In Progress Wednesday!

This week I decided to throw in a little crafty something for myself. I fell in love with this trim at the fabric store last week and bought it without anything specific in mind. My new momagenda just arrived and I'm thinking about making a little cover for it. Nothing like making your planner a little prettier to motivate you to use it more :)!

Work on Matteo's birthday crown continues at a glacial pace, which I actually am enjoying quite a bit. It's a real treat to work slowly, meditate over what I'd like to put on there and use the little pockets of time I have to do a little stitching here and there. One morning this week I went over to a friend's house so we could work on our boys crowns together (her son's birthday is coming up as well) and it was SO fun to craft with a friend! I imagine it was like the quilting bees of old where women gathered and crafted in fellowship :). So far, I've just embroidered an "M" and sewed on a few leaf buttons. I'm trying to decide which fabric to use over the elastic on the back of the crown- brown w/red mushrooms or brown with polka dots... what do you all think?

Crazy picture, right? That's me at an old college semi formal 20 (YIKES- Holy Badly Permed Hair Batman!!) years ago! It's here because I found some use for the midnight blue velvet dress I was wearing... a royal cape for Matteo! I ripped the seams out of the bottom half of the dress and used the skirt for the cape. There was some metallic trim and gold braid in my scrap box (Yay me for finally cleaning out my craft area so I could find these treasures!) and I'm adding on a gold braid frog closure for the front. I am LOVING that this dress is getting a second life!

So crafting is moving along happily over here and am hoping that my motivation continues...

Thanks everyone for helping me keep this creativity train a'movin!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

WIP Wednesday- Bounty!

Today, my mom and I had one of the best afternoons we've had together in a long time! Now that I've been sewing more, she wanted to share with me some of the bounty of her fabric stash (see above).

My mom has been sewing for over 50 years. When I was a child some of my most vivid memories of my mom was watching her sew in her little corner of the living room while I played with her spools of thread. She used to make all of my clothes which I thought was soooo uncool at the time, but now of course I wish I still had those adorable handmade outfits. I don't remember her ever giving me a formal sewing lesson, but I realize now that I must have picked up a lot from watching her as a lot of the sewing I'm doing seems to come naturally... unlike some other craft hobbies (yes, I am talking to you, darn circular needles!)

...back to her crazy stash... my mom is also a hardcore yard sale shopper. Over the past few months, she has come across 3 yard sales with HUGE amounts of fabrics for sale. It was sad that these fabrics had come up for sale due to the passing away of a family member who sewed. My mom confessed to me that it made her glad that she could share her fabric with me while she is still alive and can see me enjoy and create something with it. Of course, that's not the kind of thing I like to think about, so I just enjoyed the time spent with her today going through boxes and boxes of fabric chatting about what had been made with this and what could be made with that, knowing that this time with her is precious and fleeting.

She also pulled out the boxes of her patterns, and oh my goodness- many of the patterns were from when I was a little girl! It was one of the few times I wished I had a little girl of my own to sew for. Luckily there were a few sailor suits and cowboys shirt patterns that my boys will be hopefully sporting in the future ;}

Anyway, this is WIP Wednesday so I thought I'd share my first completed birthday project! I finished the bunting for Matteo's birthday. I was thrilled that it was so easy to do in the little increments of time that I had to do it.

I cut the birthday crown tonight and am figuring out the designs that I am going to applique and embroider onto it.

Thanks so much everyone for your encouragement and indulgence as I am surfing this crazy crafting wave!
I'd love to hear how you found your crafting calling and what form it takes for you...

Warmly and Craftily Yours,

Monday, July 6, 2009

Discovering Zakka

Zakka: The art of seeing the savvy in the ordinary and mundane...

As I have been searching for supplies for various crafting projects, I came across the phrase "Zakka". A Japanese design movement, it encompasses so many of the aesthetics that I find soothing and happy... simplicity, handmade craftmanship, charming details. I've been so excited to learn more about it! As I have been looking for inspiration for Matteo's birthday crown, I came across this book Design Collection for Kids on an old Soulemama post. I ordered it not realizing that it is written in Japanese, but when it came today, I was doing a happy dance just browsing through the pages! So many lovely little embroidery and applique ideas! I couldn't wait, so I pulled out some scrap felt to make a little practice swatch...

I love the retro feel of so many of the fabrics and trims I've come across. I ordered some trim (and other supplies) for birthday crowns for all of the the boys upcoming birthdays!

I have been feeling so excited lately about the art of creating things by hand. Tonight I felt a calm that I hadn't felt in awhile as I sat and embroidered my little piece of felt, finding beauty in the simple little stitches.

What gives you joy as you craft, dear friends?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Craftin' She Will Go!

Something has come over me the past few days... it feels like I've been infused with some crazy creative energy! It started when I started mapping out what I wanted to do for Matteo's 4th birthday at the end of August. There are so many projects that I want to do BUT I had the major problem of my crafting area being in total shambles. I have my sewing machine set up in a corner of the pantry/laundry room and the area had been taken over with the boys art projects gone awry (anyone need cardboard with random fabric glued on?), laundry baskets of clothes in need of repair or folding, toys that were out of circulation... it was just awful. So I spent Friday night (until 1AM!) cleaning out the area and digging the sewing machine out from under all the clutter. This is what emerged...

... sigh, I can breathe now :) ...

The curtains to the left hide the storage shelves for my crafting supplies

Fiona the Fairy Goddess watches over me and directs me away from acrylic yarn and polyester fabric ;} ...

I haven't done any sewing for awhile, so I wanted to start with something easy to get back into the groove of it. I dug through my fabric scrap stash and found enough pieces to do a fabric bunting.
I also am planning on making Matteo a birthday crown and am anxiously awaiting trim and buttons from Etsy to arrive! There are a few more things that I'm cautiously optimistic that I can get done in time that I'll share as I go along. Hopefully the creative mojo will stay with me and that the crafting gods will smile favorably upon my efforts!