Monday, June 29, 2009

Collage class

Yesterday I attended a collage class in San Rafael with ten other women, and it was one of the most enjoyable days I've had in recent memory. The workshop was led by Delisa Sage, the owner of Collage Gallery in San Francisco, and held in her arts & crafts style home nestled in a lush garden on a hill. Here are photos of her gorgeous home:

Delisa made it a safe environment to create-- she emphasized play and experimentation rather than competition and perfection. As we worked on our collages, she went around the table and offered supportive comments, gently nudging us to take risks and push our art further than we'd gone before. I would love to take more of Delisa's workshops. Here are a couple of examples of her artwork:

This is my almost-finished collage-- the central image is a page out of a storybook featuring my old childhood friend, Babar.

Delisa pushed me (nicely, of course) not to use too many rectangles and to, "trick it out more." She also suggested that we modify each element in the collage at least 30% to make it our own.

I attended the class with my best friend, Dogwood. Here she is with her finished collage. I love the theme and color palette.

After we were done making our collages, we went in to the kitchen for a surprise. One of the women had paid for her mother to attend the class as a birthday gift, and she said a few words about her mother being a lung cancer survivor and how much she appreciated having a mom who encouraged her to be creative. It was very moving and my eyes filled with tears. Then Dogwood talked about her granddaughter's recovery from Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and gave everyone one of her little angel pins, and it was so touching. We sat outside on the patio with refreshing cups of sorbet, chatting and reveling in the wonderful day we spent together.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


These are baby screech owls that are being raised in a wildlife rescue center. Aren't they the cutest? They look like wise little muppets.

I have a *thing* for owls. It started over ten years ago, when I used to hike in the foothills most evenings, and in late summer would see huge owls-- I think they were Great Horned-- perched on the tips of the tallest trees. For me, seeing those birds was like winning the lottery jackpot. I was rich with owls.

Then, a few years ago, I met a birding friend as obsessed with owls as I am. At night we would sneak in to the woods to go owling. She would play a tape recording of a Western Screech Owl, and we'd stand perfectly still in the dark, flashlights ready, waiting for a response. When we heard a hoot, we'd shine our lights in that direction, certain we were about to see an owl. But the only thing we ever saw were wood rats and a bobcat that scared the bejeezus out of me.

The next spring, I began seeing barn owls in flight in my neighborhood at night. It was funny the way it started-- one night, I happened to glance up and see one gliding over a rooftop and out of sight. It happened about a dozen more times over the next few months. I'll never forget it, because that was the year I learned that you don't always have to travel very far from home to find what you're searching for-- sometimes all you have to do is step outside and look up at the sky.

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Here are some owl-themed craft projects you might enjoy.

Robyn at
Daisy Quilts is offering this cute Hoot the Owl tutorial for free until June 30th, and then it will be available in her Etsy shop.

This owl dishcloth, designed by Janelle Schlossman, is available for free at
Knitting on the Net .


Thursday, June 25, 2009

How to make a miniature fabric collage

When I started this blog my intent was to share my original knitting patterns. I didn't plan to write much about myself, and I certainly didn't plan to post tutorials for fabric collages! But I did fall head over heels for painting and collaging, so I'm offering this tutorial to others out there dabbling like I am.

These simple mini collages are a great way to preserve bits of your favorite fabric and use up scraps. Because they are small and fast to make, you can feel free to experiment with colors, shapes, and styles. I sometimes make two or three at the same time, and won't hesitate to paint over a collage that doesn't turn out as expected.


-A tiny canvas. I like the 2" x 2" size found in craft and hobby stores. I have also seen these in Diddams, the party supply store, in the craft section.
-Acrylic paints. I buy the cheap-o paints at Michael's for about .75 cents each.
-Paint brushes in a variety of sizes.
-Fabric with interesting colors/motifs.
-Acrylic Gel Medium for use as a sealant and adhesive. This is fairly inexpensive and can be found at any craft store.
-Modge Podge to seal your finished collage with a bit of a sheen. Again, widely available in craft stores.
-Scissors for cutting fabric.
-Glue for adhering fabric layers to each other.

To make the miniature fabric collage:

1. Paint the canvas the background color(s) of your choice.

2. While waiting for the canvas to dry, cut the fabric in to small, interesting shapes. Use a drop of glue to adhere fabric layers to each other.

3. When the canvas is dry, apply a light coat of gel medium to it and then arrange the fabric pieces on the canvas while the gel is still wet.

4. Allow the gel to dry, and then add a frame of paint dots. I learned this technique from the marvelous book
Mixed Mania -- using a dried up ball point pen (or the non-bristle end of your paintbrush), create dots around the edge of the canvas in one color, and then go back and use a second color.

Or, decorate in any way you like. You could paint swirls or circles, write words, use stamps, outline the fabric pieces with a pen, add bits of paper or metal. Here are some examples:

5) When the collage is dry, seal it with a light coat of Modge Podge.

You can hang these individually or as a series, adhere them to a larger canvas or to a piece of wood. I have a gallery lined up on my patio fence.

Here are some additional resources for collaging:

Taking Flight: Inspiration & Techniques to Give Your Creative Spirit Wings by Kellie Rae Roberts

Mixed Mania: Recipes for Delicious Mixed Media Creations by Debbi Crane and Cheryl Prater

The website of artist DJ Pettitt also has some wonderful fabric artwork that will inspire you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Giveaways and thoughts on swaps

Just a quick post to let you know about a couple of giveaways going on right now ...

Andrea at Superhero Journals is giving away a gorgeous handbag. You have until Friday, June 26th to enter.

Jen at Miss Punkie Pie is giving away a quilt pattern in celebration of being 100 days smoke free. She will be drawing a winner on Monday, June 29. Congrats, Jen!

I've been busy gathering items for the two swaps I'm participating in, A Country Dream's Cosy Crochet and Knitting Swap and The Chateau of Remnants' Vintage Summer Solstice Swap. It's been fun getting to know my swap partners and planning the packages I intend to send to them, but a bit nerve-wracking, too, because I really want them to like what I send and not be disappointed. I was thinking yesterday, while browsing in a thrift store, that one of the wonderful things about swaps is that so many of us love to give to others but aren't as comfortable receiving gifts, and these swaps give us an opportunity for both. I'm hoping that after I've done a couple of them I'll start feeling more comfortable and have a clearer sense of the kinds of things to send.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Watermelon Award

Last week I received a Watermelon Award from Linda at Natural Suburbia . Thank you Linda, I appreciate it! I tried following the trail of links to see where the award originated from and find out more about it, but reached a dead end after about ten blogs. (Although someone did have it on her blog as a gadget titled, "My melons are a ten." I like that!)

In accepting the award, I have to tell you six things that make me happy.

1) I have a job! I am so grateful to be employed during this recession. I've been laid off a few times in the past, and it's not fun (at least not after the first time when it felt like I was given permission to have an extended vacation). And I actually like my job, which is a refreshing change.

2) Obama is president! That makes me extremely happy. 'Nuff said.

3) The supportive women in my life who inspire and encourage me. You know who you are!

4) My spiritual side. I don't talk about it much because I am a private person, but my spirituality nurtures and sustains me.

5) Crafts! I am so in love with knitting, and I'm in the process of falling hard for painting and collage, too. (I'm a bit of tramp, aren't I?) Crafting has changed my life in so many ways.

6) My kittens, of course. Charlie and Apollo are the most loving, snuggly cats I know. I can't imagine my life without them.

What makes you happy?

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My friend Rachel at Not-So-Plain Jane is having a giveaway. Just leave her a comment by June 30th, and you could win this adorable purse. Good luck!

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I'm back from Mendocino.

That's where I go when I feel like I've lost touch with myself and need to remember what's true and what's important.

I took head-clearing drives through forested mountains, visited an art museum and galleries, shopped for yarn, had picnics on the headlands and took a walk through an old-growth redwood forest.

The best part was sitting on the edge of a cliff, watching the ocean crash below, being lulled by the sound of the waves, and feeling like I'd come home to myself.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I've been yearning to get away and spend some time in nature, so I'm heading north for a few days. See you soon.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cats and baths and crafts

The other night, I took a soak in the tub and then went to the kitchen to finish up the dishes. Suddenly, I heard a crash and a splash.

I ran to the bathroom in time to see a very wet Charlie jumping out of the tub. He didn't realize the water hadn't completely drained, and got quite a surprise when he jumped in. I was going to post wet cat pictures, but changed my mind because I don't want to humiliate him. If he asks, I didn't tell you about this.

I'll post pictures of my latest crafts projects instead. This is an original design of a felted digital camera case.

I can't seem to knit anything more complicated than dish towels, wash cloths, scarves and small bags these days. I have tons of half-used balls of cotton yarn, so I'm making striped cloths. This one is a dish towel.

I've been doing a bit of painting, too. Every time I post one of my tiny paintings I feel like I have to add the disclaimer that I don't know what the heck I'm doing, I just love how it feels to paint. I made this one after my sister showed me a book of Dr. Seuss paintings for grown ups with whimsical characters in often surreal surroundings (much like his art for kids, but with decidedly grown-up themes).

And this is yet another 2"x2" collage/painting. Can you tell I like dots? It's hard to go wrong with dots. The design in the middle is a piece of fabric.

Hope you're having a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Couple of giveaways and a swap blog

Tula Pink is giving away these four beautiful bags! I almost hate to tell you about it because I really want to win one. Oh well. You have until June 15th to leave a comment on her blog. If you must.

Emma at Little Brown Rabbit is giving away this Chiffchaff print. I didn't know what a Chiffchaff was and had to look it up-- I thought it might be some sort of exotic art technique. Turns out it's a type of bird. Anyway, I think the print is adorable. You have until June 15th to throw your name in the hat.

I learned about a cool blog from Melanie at A Country Dream . It's called Swap Dex , and it's an index of the swaps going on right now on the blogs. I signed up for a couple and I'm pretty excited about it-- I've wanted to join one for a while, but always seem to find out about them too late.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Mesh bamboo scarf knitting pattern

A lightweight, incredibly soft scarf perfect for a cool evening. Knit with 100% bamboo in a simple mesh pattern. Appropriate for beginners and more advanced knitters looking for a simple project that doesn’t require too much concentration.

This reversible scarf is approximately 3" wide and 60" long. To make a wider scarf, cast on a multiple of three stitches plus two (for example, 26, 32, or 38 stitches). To see variations of the pattern knit by others, please see my post titled More mesh scarves.


K1: knit one stitch
K2TOG: knit two stitches together
YO: yarn over


Southwest Trading Company 100% Bamboo (one ball)
Straight needles size US 10

Note: Your scarf-in-progress will look different than mine because it needs to be lightly blocked when finished to flatten it and open up the pattern. I block mine by dampening it with water and laying it flat on a towel on a table.

To knit the scarf:

Cast on 23 stitches

Row 1: Knit

Row 2: Knit

Row 3: K1 *K1, YO, K2TOG*; repeat from *, end the row with K1

Repeat rows 2 and 3 until scarf reaches desired length, ending with row 3.

Knit two more rows and then b
ind off.

Lightly block the scarf to flatten it and accentuate the pattern.

Update: Here is an example of the same pattern knit in pink and white bamboo. This is one of my favorite scarves because the bamboo isn't scratchy against my neck, plus the pink just makes me feel pretty.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A big giveaway (and some other little things)

The Fabric Shopper is giving away thirty fat quarters! You have until Sunday, June 7th to leave a comment. (Thanks, sis, for sending me the link.)

* * *

We got a little rain today, which rarely happens in June. Everything looks a bit more green and lush.

Around here you have to enjoy the green while you can because in the summer the surrounding hills turn crispy brown. And then they start to burn.

Today's romping lawn-bird is a phoebe.

I accidentally got a picture of it hovering over the lawn. Pretty cool.

Poor Charlie, he wants to chase a bird so badly, but he's trapped in apartment jail. Before I got a cat I used to get furious at people who let their cats roam free and kill birds. Then when Charlie came in to my life, I felt so bad for him stuck inside all day that I caught myself thinking, well, maybe it would be okay if he went out and just got one bird. Yikes!! I'm a bird lover! I started walking him on a leash at night instead, which is a good compromise, I think. At least it is for me.

And here is a picture of Apollo that I took this morning, in case he reads this and feels left out. I'd love to write about him more, but he doesn't like to hold still for pictures. Apollo is a shy, nervous guy who spends most of his time sleeping in the closet. I do what I can to make him feel safe and loved, but he's very much a skittish loner.

* * *

My latest 2x2 inch painting/collage ... I've completed five of them, and they are all lined up on the fence on my patio like little tiles.

Hope you have a good weekend. I've been under the weather all week, so I'm going to be taking it easy this weekend. At least I'm going to try. I have such a hard time slowing down these days-- I'm constantly running errands and cleaning and doing other stuff that seems so very important, but isn't. Andrea at Superhero Journal has a great post about this very subject if you'd like to check it out.