Tag Archives: crafting

Meditation on stitches

I picked up Anne Lamott’s new essay Stitches: A handbook on meaning, hope and repair when I was at the Drake library yesterday. I’m not currently in the depths of despair, but reading Lamott is sort of like listening to a funky California aunt wax on about the universe/her daily life in a way that’s both humorous and flip and randomly profound. And I’m always up for something that attempts to tackle the existential dread.

The book is one you can finish in the time it takes to bake up a loaf of banana bread, and I was drawn to it because the whole thing basically uses sewing as an analogy for carrying on despite all of the Bad Things that happen in life. I found it to be a little bit long on bobo-ish anecdotes (maybe I’m being unfair because pain is pain whether you come from privilege or not, right?), but there were some good nuggets in there. This was one of my favorite quotes on sewing:

sewingquotebackground quilt image via Stitched in Color 

Sewing gives me such pleasure, because it requires focus and attention and imagination and perseverance. Maybe that’s a bit spiritual. The book’s ethos kind of reminded me of my breakfast table thoughts from awhile back, and of the recent column on the art of presence. Also, Nancy Berns’ TEDxDesMoines talk on Closure, which has more than 13,000 views!

I’m glad I’ve whipped up a few small projects recently. I think it helps my equilibrium. Here are some others I’d love to try:

A quilted kitchen mat seems like a good medium-sized project to tackle

The geranium dress would be cute on some girl babies I know. Maybe a good first garment project? I’d love the Washi dress for me, but I don’t think I’m there yet.

I’m pretty sure I don’t have the patience for a honey pot quilt (in LOVE with the fabrics) but a hexagon mug rug might be more do-able.

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Filed under Books, Getting crafty, Life lessons, What I'm into

Honey lovers

I finally finished a wedding gift I dreamed up for my cousin Kelley and her husband Paul — almost six months after they tied the knot. You have a year to give a gift, right? Also, the ferns in her hair and the pearl-studded pins? So incredibly gorgeous.


Theirs was the amazing Hood River wedding (read about our adventures that week here) and I knew I wanted to create something special for them. Kelley and Paul raise honeybees and love the outdoors, so I decided to make them a quilted table runner meant to look like their initials carved in a birch tree, with some honeycomb-style hexagons pieced and quilted on top.


With a newborn, I haven’t had a ton of hands-free time. Joe gave me the girl-you’re-crazy look when I started this, but I was possessed by the idea.  I’m so happy it turned out like I envisioned!


I freehanded most of it, but for the letters inside I printed a font I liked and copied it onto the fabric with disappearing ink that I stitched over. I also traced a heart design and then stitched over that. 


The hexagons were all cut after being traced from a quilting template. Sewing hexagons together is kind of tricky!


My heart is full of joy for this dynamic duo!


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Filed under Getting crafty, Travel

Can’t. Stop. Crafting.

After a crafting hiatus this summer and fall, a few weeks ago I came down with a bit of a fever to makemakemake stuff. And in an effort to make a dent in my disaster of a craft area, I vowed to work only with supplies I already had on hand. I still hadn’t created anything handmade for Emmett, so I wanted to make a special Christmas present for him.

When I first visited Stitch, I purchased a three-pack of darling farm-themed fat quarters and in the back of my mind I knew I wanted to use them to make some sort of gift. I love the idea of play food toys, and I’ve been into doing blanket stitch on felt, so I decided to try to make a few plush veggies in a little “farm to table” sack.


IKEA also has a super inexpensive set if you aren’t the kind of person who derives ridiculous amounts of pleasure creating misshapen carrots of your own design while watching Homeland.


Once I’d created one carrot, I couldn’t stop myself and am already making plans to add to the collection.


I love the idea that it’s like a plot of garden/picnic blanket when they’re laid out. If I was really on my game, I would have sewed a plate and silverware appliques on the gingham fabric.

farm plush veggie toys

The corn was a particularly goofy labor of love, and required busting out the sewing machine, but this Iowa boy appreciated the effort.


Emmett loved them. He got his two (bottom) front teeth* just in time for Christmas and proceeded to immediately put the corn cobs into his mouth.


The reversible drawstring bag was a breeze, thanks to a tutorial I found. I actually made this while Emmett was awake and attempting to feed himself a bottle.


A few other projects I’ve pinned to attempt for Emmett someday:

  • Monster mittens (This may be especially important if his eczema persists into toddlerhood!)
  • A “quiet book” with little activities that travel and help develop fine motor skills
  • A felt storyboard kind of like the one I remember coveting from our children’s library growing up

*Teething is awful. I don’t know how he can be up screaming all night and then super giggly in the morning, while Joe and I stumble around in total zombie mode. Still, kind of loving this season with a tiny.


Filed under At home, Baby, Getting crafty

New in Des Moines: Stitch

Let’s talk about happy places. Those almost sacred spots where, as soon as you cross the threshold, whatever weight you felt in your shoulders slides off, you breathe a little deeper and a smile creeps across your face. I found a new one today, Des Moines. And if you’re the kind of person who covets pretty fabric and a charming notion, you’re going to love it, too.


I was beyond tickled to take a late lunch field trip to the East Village to celebrate Stitch on its opening day. The new fabric/textiles shop is the creation of my friend, Tami Stroh (right) – she’s the generous soul who recovered our nursery glider! – and her business partner, Jessica.


I met Tami through Ephemera, my original Des Moines Happy Place, and have enjoyed connecting with her for coffee one-on-one. She has a daughter a few years younger than me who loves books and manatees, so clearly she knows how to raise ’em.


Anyhow, I immediately wanted to take all of the amazing bolts of fabric down and wrap them around myself like lovely togas and lip sync “My Favorite Things.”

Stitch will be a fantastic addition to the East Village, with Hill Vintage & Knits down the street, too. It’s a little bit like having our own Purl Soho, and that is not a comparison I would make lightly. I actually bought some Knit Collage brand yarn when I was in New York last summer, and it turns out Stitch is having a trunk show of their products at the next First Friday!


The shop also features workspace for sewers, with machines that you can rent to use for $6/hour.


Of course, I purchased a few fat quarter bundles.


And on my way back to the car, I just had to poke my head in at Ephemera, where they just got in amazing candles that smell like fall, but in a way more posh scent than your run-of-the-mill pumpkin spice. Like fall would smell if it actually looked like a spread in Martha Steward Living.

53bac834165e11e38d2722000a1f8fa0_7Have you heard about their 150 envelopes campaign?

1236429_10151802433648756_1961522902_n-1Hooray for all of the happy places in Des Moines’ East Village!


Filed under Getting crafty, I love Des Moines