A sneak peek at the new line of market bags. I am calling this line "English Hunt." (More on that to be revealed later. Trust me, it will make sense.) The outside is a lovely wool tartan from Cotswold Woolen Weavers - hand carried from jolly old England. The inside is naturally hand dyed hemp canvas with two generous linen pockets. Straps are oil rubbed leather from our own Maverick Leather here in Penngrove. The closure is held with a vintage cadet button - not sure what I will do when I finally run out of these handy buttons. The lovely Simone - owner of the ever so fabulous Zenbelly Catering - tested the prototype for me. I figured she was the perfect person to test a market tote since she is a regular at the local farmer's markets. And the result is...a glowing two thumbs up review!! "...it's perfect for the market, and also as a city bag/big purse- If I were running errands on foot, I would totally use it to throw my purchases in." Which means, not only is it good-looking, it is - more importantly - well made and functional. So, you can carry it out with you to town and throw in all the goodies you find - go ahead, load it up! - and comfortably carry it home. She tested the longer strap version which will be available. Some versions will also now have an outside pocket for your keys and wallet - Simone's suggestion. And a good one at that. Back to Zenbelly for a minute, if you haven't checked out her blog, you absolutely should. Don't wait. Do it now. It is filled with the most delicious recipes. As in, "the best chicken ever" type of recipes. And they are easy to follow. Which, as we all know, is very much appreciated. Thanks, Simone, for testing my market bag, and thanks for more than a couple excellent family meals! Your the tops!
Objects of Use No. 6 Lincoln House Market Street Oxford OX1 3EQ United Kindgom
Telephone: ++44 (0)1865 241705
Wandering around Oxford – some may call it lost, we like to call it exploring – we stumbled upon THE most amazing shop. And I do not say that lightly. Objects of Use is quite simply the loveliest shop I have ever stepped foot inside. Filled with a vast array of usable items of the most exquisite workmanship and quality. The time the proprietor must have spent in choosing each piece is impressive, to say the least. What was most refreshing and touching, really, was the lack of slick brand goods. This is not a design store. Although it is, in my opinion, exquisitely designed. It is a store filled with Objects for Use. Simple in its function. Stunning in its execution. Again, the loveliest shop. My heart leapt when I spotted a selection scissors lovingly hung from wooden pegs along the wall. I may have to take a trip back for the little gold stork handled embroidery ones. At only 15 pounds, I would be a fool to pass them up.
the lovely lady of the shop
the very gracious owner - a supremely brilliant human being who is - in his own words - 'against throwawayism'
Strolling through the countryside near my Mum's house in the Cotswolds.
I love washing hanging on the line. This was taken in a little town in Wales. I think when I get home I will put up some washing lines in our field. It would be a nice way to dry all the dyed fabric.
We play "would you rather" in the car which usually goes something like "would you rather eat rotten scallops or rotten clams?" Every once in a while I try to get it on a more pleasant track - would you rather stroll through the English countryside or the California country side? My husband says, "no question...California." I say, "no question...English." Hmmm...wonder where that will lead?
So...what have we been up to? Mostly walking. And going to really, really old pubs which you have to bend down to enter - because the doorways are so little. Seeing the baby - which is the main reason we are here. It is amazingly warm and sunny so we packed all wrong. Rain coats and heavy sweaters. But, as you can see from the photos, we don't really need any. Next week we are going to Filkin's fabrics to look at remnants of some super beautiful woolen fabric. I am hoping to purchase enough to make an entire line of pillow covers and hopefully some smaller patchwork throws. At home, I have been busy making a stash of larger, plain pillows as an accompaniment to the modern rustic ones. They look great together. I felt the more detailed pieces needed to be balanced out. Otherwise it feels too cramped and messy. I will put some in the shop when I get home.
My daughter's busy work. She has been keeping herself occupied by picking flowers from the neighbor's yards and then selling them back for 1P. Budding young capitalist.
Off for another walk! Enjoy your days. xoxo
A new pillow for the shop today. You can find it here. My new goal is to get at least 4 new items in the shop per week. Hopefully more. Including some nice naturally dyed linen napkin sets - because everyone deserves nice cloth napkins - and a great new bag I have a sketch for.
This is the new packaging I came up with for some of the goodies sold in the shop. Cute muslin bag with a small blue antler hand painted on wool felt. It has a nice drawstring and can be reused for whatever your little hearts desire. I like it.
And finally, a new batch of natural dye for a napkin order. The color came out really pretty. In the left over soup I added some minerals and got a soft grey-pink. Still deciding what I should make with the left over fabric.
On to other news...we went bird watching this weekend, which we are always doing to some extent. But this time we took binoculars and our Western Bird Book. Wow. Nerd alert! We identified 19 species of birds in our neighborhood. Which was completely addicting once we started. And we ignored all our other chores. Next year we want to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, a joint project of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, The Audubon Society, and Canadian Partner, Bird Studies Canada. But for now we are obsessed with naming all the little black, brown and grey birds in our backyard. What is it about grouping and naming things that we are so driven to do? Mystery.
Have a lovely week. Treat yourself well.
find out more here.
A friend sent me the link for this bag today with the subject "thought of you." Which is a very big complement. Thank you a million times over. I would love to apprentice in Kapital's workshop for a day or two.
So today is the big day...the day I have been mulling over in my head for months - perhaps years would be more accurate. It may have even been a lifetime. Today is the day I begin to stitch together the fabric for a the Victorian Parlor chair which has been sitting in my garage, ever so patiently, waiting for me to get my confidence together to tackle the project. I know this will be a long process. I am resigned to the fact that for a stretch of time I will hate my work. I will feel incredibly uncomfortable and I will want to quit. I am also resigned to the fact that I will keep sewing. And eventually, I will reach the point where I look down and smile and know I have created something good. It always works like that. The same predictable evolution. The difficult part is remembering that I have been there before. Remembering that the discomfort is a natural part of my creative process. And after getting a bolster of confidence from the Kapital tote above, I have to say, I am quite excited to begin the journey again.
A small peek into my mind/work space. As you can see, it is a little cluttered today. I spent the day digging through fabric, dying some, cutting more, making piles all over the sitting room. I am preparing to cover a beautiful, old, Victorian parlor chair. It will be my first cover with my own fabric - hand dyed, hand stitched in my own rustic industrial fiber art design. A tad intimidating. Hence...the work space and clutter in the brain. All will be well. Just have to push on. Tomorrow is a new day. Bright and new. And clean. xoxo
April 22, 1922 – March 30, 1993
Still Life with Letter, 1961
January 11, 1936 – May 29, 1970
Every so often I forget why I am doing what I do. I get caught up in the end result. Or I get caught up in the fact that I am not "there" yet. Wherever that is. I also get lost in the fear that people may not like what I am doing - or I tailor a piece to what I think people will like. Then I am just that. I am lost. And I need to find my way back to the roots of what I do. And I need to ask myself the very first question again. Why? Why am i doing this? Is it to make money? Yes...but no. Is it because I don't know what else to do with myself? In a way, yes. But more than any other reason, it is because I have to. I am miserable without it. Cranky and unfulfilled. When I look at the photo of Eva above, I see the place I want to be. I see the peace in her that comes from doing what you are here to do. When you just are. And you move through it without hindrance. This morning I woke up feeling sick, achy and worn down. I came into the sitting room and gazed at my recent work overflowing from the back of my sewing chair onto the floor, and thought just that question...Why? More thoughts flowed in. What is that? Why did I make that? Do I even like it? What am I doing? Back to the first question. Why? Why I am not looking for another job? Why am I not still working in a lab at some biotech company? Why am I not still teaching? Why do I need to pursue this? It always comes back to that. So I made a cup of tea and sat on our wonderful old couch and started pouring through books on two of my favorite artists. Richard Diebenkorn and Eva Hesse. And I remember. I remember being a little girl standing in front of paintings by Diebenkorn and Francis Bacon and feeling at home. Feeling like I had found my place. And I am soothed. I look at the lines in Diebenkorn's work and see the inspiration for the rustic industrial patterns I am driven to sew. I look at Eva's work and see the beauty in the rough edges. And I see that it is all good. That no matter where it takes me it is good. And I cry. And I am happy. Still sick, but happy. xoxo
Dire Wolf skulls.
Pretty skull vignette.
Wall of Golden Eagle leg bones. You can see them all here.
Phew! There has been a lot going on. Last weekend we took a car trip down to Los Angeles. Above are some photos I took at the Le Brea Tar Pits. If you have never been there, they have an amazing museum - if you are into science geek stuff like I am. You can check it out at the link above. Well worth the day trip! We also went to Disneyland. Yep, that's right. Disneyland. It was fantastic. A tad different than our usual vacations which involve tents and hiking. Last trip we were snowed in at Desolation Wilderness. Which was also a fantastic trip. We like to stay well rounded. Now, onto other news.......................
new tea set,
and new-to-me fabric.
We also visited with family - which is always the highlight. And while we were there, my Mother in Law gave us a set of her dishes - part of the tea set is shown above - and a huge bolt of vintage outdoor fabric! Both of which I am absolutely in love with. So thank you, Rosalie, for not only being incredibly generous, but also incredibly stylish. So now I get to come up with some great designs for the super groovy fabric - and have a cup of tea while I am doing it! I am thinking outdoor floor pillows, maybe? With hand dyed hemp canvas edges in an inky blue/black? That sounds pretty darn wonderful for outdoor parties.
Finally - the biggest news. I am, as of yesterday, self employed! Running Pennyroyal full time. It was a big decision for the family and would like to say thank you to my incredibly supportive husband for having faith in me. I am sooooo lucky. So, now...off to work. I have some new wool silk blend fabric in the washer ready to be dyed for scarves, or cowls, or whatever my little heart desires, and some already dyed hemp fabric ready and waiting to be embellished in the signature rustic industrial way. So...here we go!
Wait!!!! I almost forgot...my hand painted antler pillows were selected to be in an online catalog put out by an interior decorator. So that was pretty neat. You can check it out...