Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Plan

I say that with trepidation because there's nothing like announcing a plan to derail it completely. I'm building this up a bit much. It's not really a plan, more of an intention. Wait...isn't that the path to somewhere?
Anyway, you may have noticed that I haven't been as present in this space lately as I have in the past. Well, I have a good reason for that and I could provide a note, with documentation, in triplicate, except I can't really discuss it yet. What I can say is that I'll have lots of goodies to show later.
In the meantime, I thought I'd give myself permission to post just pretty pictures, or, oy... just a written thought or two without any images.
That, by the way, is The Plan. Not especially exciting, but a preview of what I'm planning for the next couple weeks. After that I've got some posts to coincide with the release of my book on November 3.
Of course, if something huge happens, I'll interrupt The Plan. I'm nothing if not flexible.
Since I lack anything of a momentous nature to report I'll just share images of some recently dyed and patterned fabric.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Pattern :: Options 1 and 2

I was writing the pattern for the Bicycle Backpack the other day and started thinking about my own habits when working from a pattern. When I purchase a pattern I usually buy the fabric at the same time. In fact I almost always buy more fabric than the pattern calls for. I do that for a couple of reasons. First, leftover fabric is hardly a "burden" and, second, I buy extra as a knee jerk reaction to my mother's fabric buying habits. When I was a kid and my mom decided that she was going to sew something for me, she would take me to the fabric shop and we'd pick out a pattern. My mom, however, always felt like the pattern makers were in some strange cahoots with the fabric manufacturers and the recommended yardages on the back of the pattern envelope were deeply exaggerated to encourage excess fabric purchases. We'd often get home and have some difficulty cutting out the pattern with our limited fabric. This often inspired creative placement of the pattern with little or no regard for grain lines. The young me often rolled my eyes at this, but now I think of it as a sweet story for my youth. Isn't it great how time smooths things out?

Getting back to my original point, when I buy a pattern, I get all the necessary notions as well. I do not want to come home and discover that I'm missing a needed ingredient.
This personal preference prompted me to offer two options for the Bicycle Backpack pattern.
Option #1 is just the pattern emailed to you as a PDF. It includes a thorough materials list, step-by-step instructions and 5 images or illustrations. Everything that you need to make the pattern is probably already in your house, except the ladderlocs. Those are the fasteners I use to make the straps adjustable. I call for 5/8" ladderlocs in my pattern and I honestly can't guarantee that that exact size is available at your local store. Some people might see this as a fun search. They might choose to Google the item and, in about half a second, have plenty of online resources to purchase ladderlocs from. Others might want to try to substitute another fastener. But others might just plain get annoyed that they don't have all the necessary materials at hand.

That's where Option #2 comes in. For a little extra I will print the pattern, mail it via USPS First Class mail and include the two ladderlocs needed to make the backpack.

I really had a good time writing this pattern. It's not my first time to write a pattern, but it is the first time I put both text and images together and drew the illustrations. At one point I said to Abi, "This is hard, but a lot of fun."
I hope you have as much fun making the pattern and I'd love to see your finished backpacks. Extra points to anyone who is wearing their backpack while riding a bike!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bicycle Backpack

I'll start off by saying that if something looks a little different about this post it's because I've been relegated to composing my text in a word processing program and then copying it to my page. The logical explanation would be that I'm somewhere without a network signal, but that's not the case. I'm at my daughter's swim team waiting for her practice to end and allegedly they have wifi here. Except that every time I've tried to get on the network it's down. This past summer I plodded up here twice a day, once in the early morning and then again just a few hours later for her practice. I wasn't happy about the internet situation.
I may not be winning too much sympathy from many of you who have young children, but I've been there and done that. I've paid my chauffeuring dues and these are supposed to be the good times- when I manipulate my seventeen-year-old-in-need-of-my-car to drive her sisters to their various activities in exchange for a vehicle with gas and insurance paid.

So, where did I go wrong? What am I doing here?

Here's the exchange between my beloved eldest and me:

Me: The great thing about the fall swimming schedule is that you can take Abi up to swim team when you go there.
Her: Except Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Me: What's special about those days?
Her: On Tuesdays and Thursdays we start at 5:00, but she doesn't start until 7:00 and we're done at 7:00 while she doesn't get out until 8:45. Nobody wants to wait.

Nobody that is, but me. Actually I don't want to wait either, but that's what I'm doing.

What does that have to do with my bicycle backpack?

What is a bicycle backpack? I'm glad you asked (my mood instantly brightens).

A bicycle backpack is what you wear on your back when you're riding around and need to carry a few essentials like keys, gym membership card, bike lock, and a phone in case you need to call your husband to help you fix (read: fix for you) a flat tire.

I already have one backpack for this purpose, but lately I've been riding my bike a lot more and Texas can be a sweaty place and I really need more than one. So I designed another. This one includes several necessities such as patchwork, hand dyed cottons, and a cool button as well as a few luxuries like adjustable straps and three deep pockets. I've been so excited about sharing this backpack with you all because

A. I enjoy talking about my craft adventures here.
2. I'm putting together a pattern for this backpack that will hopefully go into my shop next week.

Do you have to ride a bike to make this backpack?
Do you have to even own a bike to make this backpack?
Is this backpack appropriate for your loved ones who only have two hands and therefore need assistance carrying their stuff?
I think you know the answer to that.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Being Renewed

One quick note: Jennifer at Runner Girl Fabrics is offering my readers a special discount through the month of September. Your purchase will receive a 10% discount. Yay! Just enter the promo code, HANDMADE, at checkout.

When I think about my mother and her sewing machine I usually refer to it as "the machine she avoided sewing on". It wasn't just that her machine was difficult to work with. It was. But she just didn't seem to enjoy the process of sewing. She deeply admired handcrafted items, but I'm not convinced that she loved crafting them herself.
Nonetheless, she came from a crafting background, associating sewing and knitting with her own mother who passed away when she was only 10. When she did sit down to sew, she had a little ritual that she remembered from my grandmother. It may even go farther back in our family, but it was definitely something my grandmother did. As my grandmother was cutting a pattern, but before she made the first cut, she turned to the intended recipient and said, in Hebrew, "Tidchadshi"(phonetically: TEED-KHAD-SHEE). It literally wishes that the recipient be renewed by the item.
Despite her ambivalence about sewing, my mother always said that word as she began cutting a pattern. I'm convinced that if, under threat of assault, she were to sew today, she would still say that word. And I say it as well, even if I'm making something for myself or giving a handmade item to a friend. I like the idea that you can be renewed by something hand crafted. It elevates the process of making to an act of healing.
I'm happy to live in a time when appreciation for the handmade is on the upswing and there is so much information and inspiration available. I love having the opportunity to share my designs, especially ones that encourage us to create for those we love.

I've got two designs in this year's issue of Quilting Arts Gifts. It's great that the focus of this special issue is making for others. I realize the release is timed primarily for folks to make Christmas gifts, but when they asked to include my designs I wanted my contributions to relate to my own winter traditions. So, I made some Hannukah coasters, pieced to mimic the letters on the dreidel.

Oh, and I designed a scarf because everyone needs those.

I made a similar scarf a year or so back and my friend, Terry, really seemed to like it. My plan is to give this one it to her.

And hope that she'll be renewed by it.