Saturday, December 13, 2014

Knitwear for the Feisty (and Cute Earrings!)

I have a friend and colleague named Kathy, who is also responsible for convincing me to become a technical writer. I am responsible for her learning to knit. So, all in all, I owe her more than she owes me.

We have now worked together at three companies—I seem to follow her around. (We also worked with mem at the same three companies, so the three of us go back more than 25 years.)

mem, Kathy, me

Google donates to many charities and encourages its employees to donate both time and money all year, but there is a particular week in June called GoogleServe, which has many scheduled opportunities. (I found this about some of the work that was done for GoogleServe in 2011 and the program continues to grow.)

Kathy and I belong to a group of knitters at Google in Mountain View who enjoy knitting together at lunch, and this group collectively knit around 150 chemo hats this year for Knots of Love. (Knots of Love also collects small blankets, but we learned of this a bit late before mailing off our hats in June. I'm sure that next year we will also knit up some of those.)

A few of Kathy's hats. She gave them to me to weave in the ends. (Since I'm a sewer, ya know, and well suited for that kind of thing. :) )

Kathy knit something like 16 adult hats for the contribution. (I was a late starter and knitted three using the patterns that Knots of Love provides.) Kathy's hats contained a special, secret, coded message. In Morse code, her hats spell out F*CK CANCER. (She included a note with each hat so the potential wearer would know about the coded message, in case it mattered, one way or another.)

I've been pestering Kathy for months to turn her design into a pattern, so that others can knit this hat. She has finally released a pattern, and she went one step further—in her blog post, she included a Morse code chart in her pattern so you can include a different message in your hat. Maybe you want to give a loved one a hat with the secret message "I love you", "stay safe", "blessings", or "do your chores".

Check out Kathy's free Morse Code Message Cap on Ravelry. She also put it on her (new) blog, Kat Knits (and Purls). It's a fast knit!

Cute Christmas gift: Earrings!

My kids do not read my blog, so I feel pretty safe in posting this before Christmas.

Recently there was a Holiday Bazaar at the San Francisco office where I work 2 days a week. There were a number of local crafts people vending their beautiful wares. Who doesn't love a good crafts fair? I bought some nice things for my kids for Christmas, and ONE thing for myself.

Just look at these cute stud earrings. This couple make incredibly cute sterling silver jewelry. These studs are tiny, but substantial, as they are cut out of thick sheets of sterling, but the buttons are a scant 1/4" in diameter.

These button earrings are for me

These are for DD1, who has 3 piercings in each ear and attends university in rainy Oregon

I just loved their jewelry, and they have a website. They also have jewelry that would appeal to guys. Maybe you know someone who would love Pac Man cufflinks, or pinwheel cufflinks that actually spin. Maybe you know someone who teaches chemistry and has multiple piercings.

Here are the links to the button earrings and the umbrella and rain earrings. (Disclaimer: I get nothing for sharing these links with you. I'm just a satisfied customer.)

I also bought earrings from another vendor. She uses pennies and dimes to make jewelry. I bought a pair for each daughter. The grumpy cats for DD1 and the owls for DD2. So cute!

I've turned one of the cat earrings over so you can see the penny.

Linda, the designer, was lovely and we had a nice chat as I was dithering over which earrings to choose. She also has an Etsy store, loaded with goodies. Here are her grumpy cats and here are her owls. Check her out! (Same disclaimer applies.)

I don't expect to be sewing much between now and Christmas, so I have nothing to show. I am busy preparing for the holidays. DD1 arrived back in SF last night. She and I will be together for much of the weekend before she jets off for several days in NYC.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Giveaway Winner and Eye Candy

The winner of the digital subscription to Selvedge Magazine is R. Trittel!

Please contact me, R, and congrats!

If you didn't win the subscription to Selvedge, here is something to inspire you. Check out some amazing eye candy—wearable art by Kay Khan!

We are experiencing some ark-building weather here in northern California—it's the "storm of a decade", which makes it a wonderful day to work from home. My cat, however, is fairly grumpy that there is no door into summer.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Greedy Gift Grab, How I Love Thee

Once again, this last weekend was the annual Greedy Gift Grab and sewing par-tay. This event is in the back of my mind all year long, and this year was no different. I usually make a gift, but this year I spied some lovely hand-turned seam rippers in Treadle Yard Goods in St Paul, Minnesota, and I had to BUY one for the gift grab!

If you want to order one, see my blog post for info. (I also gave one away for my blogiversary.)
At this point, I've bought four: two to keep (one resin, one wood) and two to give away (one resin, one wood). I love them that much and I've used both the wood and resin rippers more than I care to admit.
This wood is bamboo—Bill makes them in a wide variety of woods and I've encouraged him to set up an Etsy store so non-locals can view his pieces on the web before purchasing.

My biggest challenge when it comes to these annual gifts is the wrapping. I am not a Wrapping Queen. In fact, my poor children often had to make do with unwrapped gifts. Sometimes, I would just hold their gift behind my back saying, "pick a hand."

Sad, I know.

My friend Renee is a gift wrapper extraordinaire. She helps me sometimes, but most years I have to muddle through on my own. And you want your gift to look compelling so that it gets opened earlier, rather than later. I always hope that I have bought a gift that will appeal to several people—it's a lot of fun when your gift is "stolen" multiple times. For me, that is the most fun of the entire evening—watching people "steal" gifts back and forth. It's a hoot and these sorts of games work well when people share a passion (which these folks do), and also when they are good natured about it (which these folks are).

So this year I had an inspired idea for the wrapping. Why not use battery operated Christmas lights?!

I then hopped onto the internet and saw that my idea was hardly unique. Oh well.

I went to Home Depot (it's so nice that they are open at 7am on Sunday) and purchased a string of fancy pendant white Christmas lights for $15. They require 3 AA batteries. (These would look so nice all lit up in a bowl as a holiday decoration and I see they also have the same lights online in multicolor.)

It's safe to say that the lights were just as much a hit as the seam ripper!

I had an ornate inlaid pencil box I had bought years ago as a gift to one of my daughters, but hadn't used it. I placed the seam ripper in the pencil box, on a bed of tissue.

I placed the pencil box in a shoe box. I placed more tissue around the pencil box and laid the lights around the pencil box.

I switched on the lights and then wrapped the gift (sans lid) with two layers of lightweight paper: one layer of canary tracing paper that I use as my tracing paper for sewing and, over that, a layer of food-grade tissue paper—white with gold stars.

Added bonus! I bought this ribbon before I was married. I used up the gold wrapping this gift, and I plan to use up the rest wrapping Christmas gifts!

My little trick worked, as my gift was the first to be opened! (I remember one year my gift was the last to be opened, meaning there is no chance to steal it—that was the year I put no special effort into the wrapping. Once the last gift is opened, the game is over.)

So what did I bring home after the game was over?

I was very fortunate to win some beautiful fabrics, all ikats, that had been purchased when my sewing friend, Sarah B, had traveled to Burma, Cambodia, and Thailand. I had to steal these back numerous times, let me tell you! What a special gift! (And thanks to Sarah B for sharing her travel treasures!)

Antique Burmese silk

Burmese men's longyi

Thai silk

Giveaway Reminder

Just a reminder! If you haven't entered the giveaway for the free, one-year, digital subscription to Selvedge Magazine, go do it now! I will draw a name on Wednesday. If you haven't left your contact info, please check back. If we can't connect up within a few days, I'll draw another name.

What's up? Where's the Sewing?

It's true, this was a weekend of back-to-back holiday parties (I also attended a huge 40s-themed work party on the U.S.S. Hornet), so I got only a bit done. My friend, Renee, had loaned me a very interesting Cynthia Ashby skirt, and I finally got that traced off, which was a bit tricky, due to some funky curves, but not much else was completed, sewing wise.

But I've just made some holiday plans... Between vacation and paid time-off for the holidays, I will have TWO WEEKS off from work!!!! I am very excited and need to start thinking about what projects I want to work on during that wonderful block of time. Staycation, indeed! (Last year I had just started my new job and had zero vacation days. That's right, it's my one-year anniversary!)

Of course, I'll also hang with my kids, but I hope to finish a few things, or maybe work on something meaty.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Selvedge Magazine (AND GIVEAWAY!)

I routinely receive emails where I am asked to review products in exchange for free product. 99.9% of the time I ignore these emails, as the products are things like nail polish, sunglasses, cheap RTW... items that have no relevance to my blog.

Several weeks ago I was contacted by Selvedge Magazine, and this time I was glad to accept a free copy in exchange for a review.

Back when Borders was a brick-and-mortar store near my home in SF, I loved to visit and look at the rack of international craft and fashion magazines, typically when the little ones were with daddy, so I wouldn't be distracted. One of my favorite magazines to peruse was Selvedge, published in England.

They sent issue 61, the "North" (winter) issue. The full title of the magazine is: selvedge: THE FABRIC OF YOUR LIFE and the tagline on the cover is "Textiles in Fashion, Fine Art, Craft, Design, Interiors, Travel and Shopping." That pretty much sums up their offering: an interesting collection of global, historical, and contemporary information and inspiration in fashion, craft, and industry. They cover the gamut, but this is not a magazine of patterns—it's for textile-inclined artists and all lovers of textiles.

I've peppered this post with a sampling of photos from the issue so you can enjoy some of the eye candy.

I've just learned that Selvedge now offers digital subscriptions, which is a great money saving (and space saving) option! (You might also be interested in following their Facebook page.)


Selvedge Magazine has kindly offered to to give away a free digital subscription to one of my readers! If you would like to enter the drawing, please leave a comment on this post. I will draw a name next Wednesday. THANKS!

What's Up?

Wow, it was nice to have 5 days off last week, with Thanksgiving break and a bit of vacation thrown in.

I did not sew one stitch.

Instead, I read, knitted (a disappointing hat), cleaned, decluttered (preparing for the holidays), spent a day hanging out—and making fudge—with one daughter, had mega phone conversations with the other, binge watched murder mysteries, caught up with Serial and my favorite "reality" TV show, Anna Wintour's Fashion Fund...and just generally enjoyed not sewing.

Since Thanksgiving, it's (finally) been raining. A lot.

mem and I were walking back from lunch and I spied someone snapping this cell photo, with us in the background. I asked him to send me a copy. (And later discovered that I was imposing myself on one of our VPs. :)

Over Thanksgiving, DD2 thoroughly enjoyed the 60°F San Francisco weather, where "the air doesn't hurt your face." When she returned to Minnesota, it was 0°F.