This is my first Halloween in Southern California, and I have to admit that it was kind of strange to carve our pumpkin in 80-degree weather this weekend. Andrew handed the design and execution over to me (he did all the scraping out) and instead of a spooky face, I thought — I love so many things about Los Angeles, why not celebrate a couple of those?
So I carved my pumpkin to spotlight my favorite place here, the Observatory up in Griffith Park, and the trail that we take to hike up there from our house. And of course I had to add the Hollywood sign for good measure.
I wish I had a picture of my all-time favorite pumpkin, from 2001 or 2002 — my friend Camela and I carved Mt. Hood and the Willamette River. I loved that one! Maybe next year I’ll try to re-create it.
Thanks to Jessica and Jeff for growing such a beautiful pumpkin right here in Los Feliz, and having us over to carve it in their garden, too…
I read a really intriguing article in the L.A. Times last week about Derek Luke and how he prepared for his new movie, the anti-apartheid drama “Catch a Fire.” He describes all the intricate work he did to play the role of “real-life South African hero Patrick Chamusso, who, after being arrested and tortured for a crime he didn’t commit, became a rebel fighter in the early 1980s.”
From the interview:
Several of Luke’s most emotionally powerful scenes are opposite Tim Robbins, who plays the coolly efficient torturer Nic Vos.
The two purposely didn’t rehearse. “I don’t like rehearsals,” said Luke. “I like to have the needle and the thread, but I don’t like to start knitting until I get on the set. We had a couple of run-throughs and we talked about it, but we never performed it.”
I have to say, I just love that he compared his exhaustive preparation to become and then inhabit his character to crafting — even if he did mix up his sewing-knitting genres a little bit!
The CRAFT party was so much fun!
I got there early to help set up and served as a crafty hostess all day, along with Jenny and Cathy. Cathy and I both wore 1960s Lilly dresses, and Jenny magically coordinated with us as well. It was so nice to see them along with Carla, the editor of CRAFT, and her husband Mark of MAKE, who was goccoing away with a cute panda design.
The lovely cupcakes (decorated by Cathy) were a huge favorite!
The prizes were pretty sweet too — lots of bundles of three shiny new Chronicle books, along with handmade delights. I was so happy to see my skirt kit and earrings go to an enthusiastic seamstress with lots of cool jewelry on! And Carla’s daughter won Cathy’s adorable pink mushroom pincushion, too.
If you’re in Los Angeles, CRAFT magazine is having a spectacular launch party at Machine Project this weekend! Come by for cupcakes, door prizes — like new crafty books and handmade delights from Felt Club vendors (including one of my skirt kits and a pair of sparkle earrings) — and free copies of the magazine. There will also be a Gocco 101 demo and lots of other surprises. Don’t miss it!
I’ve been a beginning-intermediate knitter for about six or seven years now and so far the most complicated thing I’ve made is my little “Mobile Monster” pig (see above) from Stitch n Bitch Nation. I have big dreams of making a real garment one day, something pretty and fitted like Jenna Adorno’s Tempting sweater… or maybe Tempting II.
But the design that’s really calling to me right now is Jenna’s charming Hopeful sweater. She designed it a couple of years ago, right before her partner of 11 years was diagnosed with breast cancer, and for each $5 pattern sold, Jenna will personally donate $6 to the Susan Love breast cancer research foundation.
Plus, the sweater is downright adorable:
If you’d like to buy it, visit this page to pay via PayPal and get your downloadable pattern instantly.
For more knitting for a good cause, Chemo Caps offers free patterns for hats you can make and donate to patients at a cancer treatment center in your area.
And if you’re not much of a needleworker, how about making a donation to the American Cancer Society directly?
I adore Lilly Pulitzer — well, her vintage prints especially — and I’ve been collecting her pieces on eBay at at flea markets and vintage stores for years. I have lots of her stuff: patchwork skirts, flowered pants, scarves and a bikini, but my absolute favorites are her pretty shift dresses… and after a recent eBay score, I have a lot of her dresses, to be honest with you.
In fact, my closet is so full that I’m selling off a few! Three are up on eBay, ending later today, and I’ll be posting eight more (plus some other vintage pieces) in the next few weeks.
Here’s a peek at the ones on the auction block today, if you happen to be interested… they’re ending later tonight, so if you love them, be quick!!
The gold shift dress is so pretty, the colors are really vibrant and bold. It’s the only Lilly I’ve ever seen that I would say is truly perfect for fall. The pink and orange floor-length dress has such unusual, cool ruching detail all along the princess seams, great for Halloween! The navy dress with the bright floral pattern is made with a warmer, knit fabric instead of the typical 65/35 polyester-cotton blend — plus it’s trimmed with hot-pink and orange crocheted lace, and lined in light green cotton! And it’s tagged Neiman Marcus along with The Lilly, too.
All three dresses are about a modern size 12-14 (see the listings for all the details).
So, if you’re looking for something fun for fall (and beyond) I highly recommend adding a few Lilly dresses to your fashion rotation! If these aren’t your size, ther e are always a bunch on eBay, so just keep an eye out.
Two artists I just love are showing their Day of the Dead artwork, plus teaching great classes, this month, how cool! If you’re in Phoenix or Portland, mark your calendars — and in the meantime all of us in other places can get a glimpse online, never fear.
In Phoenix, the lovely Kathy Cano Murillo has unveiled an array of Day of the Dead goodies on her Chicano Pop Art site (created with her husband, artist Patrick Murillo). You can even buy a kit to make your own shrine, based on her “Colorful Casitas” project from Making Shadow Boxes and Shrines:
This Saturday (October 14) Kathy will be selling her work at a Day of the Dead craft fair at Suenos Latin American Imports from 10-6, and the following Friday (October 20) she has an art opening at the Vision Gallery at 6 pm. The very next day (October 21) at noon, she’s teaching a white chocolate sugar skulls class at Suenos.
I just had the chance to craft with Kathy on Craft Lab, and I can’t recommend her projects highly enough, she makes such fun, gorgeous stuff! You can see all of her upcoming events here, so if you miss this round, keep an eye on where she’s headed next (I hear New York is one of her next stops…).
In Portland, Cathy Pitters is showing her remarkable found-object crosses and shrines at Alma Chocolate, and the opening is from 7-9 on this Friday the 13th (spooky!). Cathy makes amazing shrines using vintage and found photographs, charms, textiles, and findings — all kinds of bits and pieces — like her “Forget-Me-Not Shrine” from Super Crafty:
Cathy’s also teaching a sugar skulls decorating class at DIY Lounge on October 28 — find more info or register at the site. If you can’t make it to either event this month, she sells her work at the monthly Crafty Wonderland sale that she co-organizes.
As for me, I’ll be making my own little set of Day of the Dead shrines this November 1, as I have for the last three years. I’m so inspired by all the creative people I know and all the beautiful work I see. I hope you are too!
Yay, it’s the second weekend of the month! Tomorrow I’m heading out to to the Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena. I go whenever I’m in town, and I’ve found some of my favorite stuff there, from a mint-condition Lilly Pulitzer patchwork wrap skirt for $18 to a perfect black cashmere cardigan for $5. The vintage clothes are incredible, especially the dresses, but the jewelry, collectibles and books are a close second too. I’m such a magpie and I love to look at everything.
My main tips for happy shopping are as follows…
1. Go early if you can. The perfect time is 9 am, in my opinion — the admission drops from $10 to $7 right at 9, but it’s still not too crowded. By noon it’s pretty crazy.
2. Bring snacks and water with you — refreshments are expensive, and it sure gets hot in a parking lot after a few hours of wandering around looking at cool stuff.
3. Hit the ATM before you go — there is one there, but it socks you with an extra-high fee. Worth it if you find a bargain Eames chair you didn’t budget for, not worth it if you want that last pair of Levi’s cords and you’re a couple bucks short.
Last month I found an adorable 1970s Official Preppy Handbook-esque black wrap skirt with a bright poppy applique, reversing to polka dots, for $10. The only problem was that it was teeny-tiny and barely went around me once, let alone with any kind of overlap for successful wrapping. I try not to buy too many things that need lots of work, but I just couldn’t resist its cuteness… so I brought it home and commenced major skirt surgery. I took the back apart completely and added a zipper, stitching the back seams together as I went. I saved the curved detail at the bottom, and finished by re-sewing the cute zig-zag stitching pattern by hand all the way around the seam.
I ended up wearing it to film my episode of Craft Lab, and at least five or six times since. The old wrap ties are a perfect little belt, or I can tie them in a bow at the back. I just love it.
This month I’m on the lookout for T-shirts for Andrew, vintage jewelry to take apart and (as always) cashmere sweaters… maybe blue this time? And of course I’m stopping by Felt Club on the way home.
I’m a huge fan of the fabulous monthly craft fairs in both of my cities, Crafty Wonderland in Portland and Felt Club in Los Angeles. If you’re in the mood to shop handmade for fall, you’re in luck: they’re both coming up this Sunday. October’s events are going to be especially cool, with plenty of spooky touches — don’t miss them! If you’re not close enough to check out either one in person, be sure to check out the vendor lists for links to tons of great stuff available online.
Carye just created a new line of woodcut and letterpressed Halloween art postcards she’s unveiling at the show, including this one (my favorite!):
Felt Club (going on at the Echo from 11-6) has 25 artists selling, including Jessica Wilson and her Jekbot line. She’s created all kinds of ooky crafts for this month’s event, including glow-in-the-dark eyeglasses cozies and these super cool Gocco’d onesies:
See you there!
What’s not to love about a magazine that shows you how to knit your own boots and crochet your own robot? Oh, and design your own custom-animated LED shirt, and create your own paint-by-numbers masterpiece while you’re at it! The brand-new CRAFT quarterly includes a broad sweep of super cool DIY projects and features, plus insightful columns like Jean Railla‘s Modern Crafting and Susie Bright‘s Home Ec. I got to talk to associate editor and craft-tech-style superstar Natalie Zee about the sparkling new Vol. 01 and beyond.
What’s your art and craft background, Natalie?
I started crafting as a kid, mainly sewing and knitting, which I learned from my mom. Since
my parents both worked, after school I’d go to the Girls Club and I took a machine sewing class and learned most of the basics that I still use today. I was probably about 10 when I made this series of puffy pillows of all the letters in my name. I was so frustrated because I had the longest name and had to sew 7 pillows, while the gal named Lisa made her pillows super fast. I also used to make and sew Barbie clothes out of my mom’s old dresses. I still sew, but these days my main love is knitting, and I have about 5 or 6 knitting projects going on right now. I also do needlepoint and embroidery. Pretty much all crafts interest me and I love learning new things.
What are some of the solo projects you’ve worked on as a designer or writer?
I started my own personal blog last summer called Coquette. It’s really a labor of love and merges all the things I’m into: mostly fashion, technology, and crafts. I love how these groups are now intersecting. It’s been fun because through my blog, I’ve met so many new and interesting women who are blogging, and it’s exciting to see this new blogging world emerge.
How did you get into magazine work?
My background is in interactive design and technology. I’ve written 4 books, 3 of them web design focused. O’Reilly, who publishes both CRAFT and MAKE magazines, also publishes web design titles and they’re famous for their technology/programming books. It’s a natural fit for my background to incorporate crafts, design/technology, and writing. In addition to writing for the magazine and CRAFT blog, I also design and help maintain the websites makezine.com and craftzine.com.
What are you most excited about in the first issue of CRAFT?
Can I say EVERYTHING? I think for all of us, it’s fun to finally see all the work we’ve done this year finally in print. It’s been such a team effort. What’s great about now is that we’ve got all the initial ramp-up stuff done, such as the magazine branding, layout, and website design so now we can really concentrate on finding great content to share. It’s really all about sharing in our crafts community.
Who are some of your favorite craft artists or sites?
I feel lucky in this job because I get to meet such amazing crafters all the time. It’s hard to have favorites, really, but the ones I adore have helped define this new kind of craft movement. I have admired these ladies for so long before I even started working in this field and crafters like Jenny Hart, Jill Bliss, Leah Kramer, Alicia Paulson, and Megan of Not Martha have been so helpful to me now that I’m a part of it!
Who or what inspires you most?
I love vintage and my favorite eras are the ’30s/’40s and ’50s/’60s. Vintage fabrics, books, magazines, cards — I love them all. I’m probably the biggest magazine addict. I absolutely love Japanese craft books and all things Japan. I told Carla (CRAFT’s Editor-in-Chief) that if I went to Japan I’d probably explode because of all the crafts, fashion, and technology — all in one place. I’m also really inspired by my grandmother, who was a fashion designer in Shanghai in the 1930s and my dad, who is an amazing artist and cartoonist. Even though we live in the same city, he sends me all kinds of funny cartoons he draws.
What’s next for you and CRAFT?
We are excited now because CRAFT is almost out on the newsstands, and this fall, we’ll be spreading the word about the new magazine. We will be at a bunch of craft fairs, such as Bazaar Bizarre, Felt Club, the SF Craft Mafia Holiday Sale, and more. Check craftzine.com for more up-to-date info. We also just started work on our next issue, Vol. 02, which is called “Creative Copies.” And for me personally, I’m getting married in a week! So a lot is going on!
How can people subscribe or find the magazine?
It’s very easy. You can subscribe to CRAFT by going to craftzine.com and clicking “subscribe” in the top navigation. Vol. 01 is even available on Amazon.com now! CRAFT will also be on newsstands on Oct 17th. Some places you can find it include your local Borders or Barnes and Nobles, select Michaels craft stores, and JoAnn Fabrics.
Susan Beal is really excited that she’s writing for CRAFT’s issues 02 and 03!