Sunday, November 23, 2008

Finding time to craft

I always start off with the best intentions for my craft blog, but never seem to follow through... I guess my biggest struggle is just finding the time to craft. As well as this, I need to balance my craft projects with my jewelry design projects. It would be so much easier if I could just choose one hobby and stick with it, but that really wouldn't work with my A.D.D. personality.

My big craft project for this fall is a baby quilt for my friend at work who will be giving birth to a baby boy any day now. The quilt has missed 2 baby shower deadlines and I'm hoping to have it complete by Christmas! So far I've managed to cut out the quilt squares and plan how I will arrange them. That's it! I'm missing white sheeting for the background still. I've realized the quilts I like the most have lots of white space in them. Without it, they can get really busy. I love texture and pattern, but not when it's competing with everything around it. I chose a sock monkey theme (fabric by Erin Michael for Moda) for my friend's quilt because she is definitely not the "cutesy" baby type. The nursery is painted chocolate brown, and I think these prints will work out well.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dia de los Muertos

Day of the Dead is a Mexican celebration which takes place every year on November 1st and 2nd. During this time, families create elaborate alters to celebrate the memories of their loved ones who have passed away.

Today Saul and I are remembering his sister Lourdes Carolina, and his grandmother "Abuelita Lulu".

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

ATC swaps & Stitched by Hand

Wow - was that a loooong blogging break! I guess summer is a bit like that as usual routines, and vacations seem to interrupt the normal flow of things. I haven't been crafty at all this summer. Leaving me feeling completely blank about how to fill up my blog space. I'm still working on fixing up our new place, painting, rearranging and planning how to turn my small walk in closet into a jewelry studio. That will be my project for this long weekend. I'll post some before and after pics next week.

In the meantime I thought I should share a photo of this amazing embroidery work by the very talented Penny Nickels. I was the recipient of her work in a Flickr ATC swap (stands for Art Trading Card) back in June. You can look at the Card I stitched for Purple Crayon, here. In my haste to pack up an move I forgot to take any pictures of it for myself!

There is another "Old School" sewing competition going on with the Stitched by Hand group on Flickr that looks like a lot of fun. If you love embroidery and hand stitching you should check this out too. The deadline to sign up is Sept 6th.

Have a great long weekend!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

new huaraches!


It's been great to have a laptop and internet access on this trip to Oaxaca, although it's like existing in two completely separate realities....

I thought I would share a picture of my new huaraches which I am completely smitten with! These are not the traditional huarache style with the woven leather, but I like them just the same. They were still made by hand and have that stiff new leather feel and smell which I love. If you would like to see more images of daily life in Oaxaca you can check out my flickr set titled Oaxaca Mexico.

Hasta luego!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

textile inspirations

Today as my husband and I made our way to his Grandmother's house for lunch here in Oaxaca Mexico we stumbled upon this exposition by American Designer Christina Kim. Her line Dosa is carried in exlusive stores in the United States and London England.

The goregous textiles shown here were stitched by hand and dyed in India. A few years back my mother in law also knit beautiful wool sweaters for her line with intricate cables. You can see the passion Christina has for preserving textile tradions by the groups of people she chooses to work with. I was so happy to discover this latest work of hers on display here in Oaxaca.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

And the winners are....

Bari and Carly! Congratulations, and thanks for your comments on my blog. The earrings are in the mail and should hopefully arrive some time next week. I have been an absent Blogger this past month. After stating publicly that I am committed to my blog and updating it more often I proceeded to slack off! My only excuse was moving and then not being able to set up the wireless network with my husband's old PC and my Mac. They just weren't getting along and it required a professional IT guy to come and sort things out...

This Saturday we are off to Oaxaca Mexico to visit my husband's family for 3 weeks. I will do my very best to post some pictures of my trip along the way. We'll be taking a laptop with us so it should be possible! Oaxaca is full of rich textile traditions. The weaving and embroidery from this state is incredible. I'll try and capture some of this on my blog to share everyone.

Hasta Luego!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Blog Give away!


I realized this morning that my 1 year blog anniversary just passed on May 19th. Although my ChicaCraft blog got off to a rather slow start and I only managed 30 posts in 1 year, I can feel it's momentum starting to grow. At least I am just as enthusiastic about the craft blogosphere as I was a year ago. In fact I am even more enthusiastic than ever, and for this reason I think it's time to give back to the blogging community! I really feel I've made a few friends through my blog and that is the most rewarding part of it all for me. Reaching out and connecting with other women who share my same creative interests and passion for fabric!

I don't have many sewn crafts on the go because I'm moving in 1 week. I do however, have lots of jewelry that would like to find a nice home. So, if you happen to drop by my blog before Sunday May 25th at 10pm, please leave me a comment and say hello and introduce yourself! Up for grabs are the two pairs of earrings shown here. The first pair are faceted aqua marine clusters with sterling silver lever back ear wires, and a finished length of 2 1/2". The other earrings are mother of pearl with a longer finished length of 3 1/2" Let me know in your comments which pair you would prefer.

If you are interested in any of the other jewelry I design, you can take a look over on my other blog Astarte Designs. I had great plans to re-open my Etsy store this month but the imminent move changed all my well laid plans! Hopefully by the end of August I'll have time to set up my shop again.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I Should be packing...

But instead I'm sitting here carving rubber stamps. It's amazing how productive you can be when procrastinating about doing other more important things! You see, we are moving in 10 days! Yippee! We had a last minute opportunity to move into a 2 bedroom townhouse in a Co-op across the city. With the average price of a home in Vancouver now at $600 000 (yes that would be six hundred thousand)!! we have decided moving into a Co-op is the best option for us at this time. With the Winter Olympics being hosted here in 2010 the housing crisis is only going to get worse!

I've been sick with the flu for the past 9 days which gave me time to finally figure out how to save Illustrator graphics for the Web. Hence the new Blog banner and other embellishments. It took a year of me doubting my ability to teach myself how to do this, but finally - with absolute determination I gave myself an afternoon to figure it out. Low and behold I found a great tutorial on the internet and by following along, I was able to walk myself through it. If you are like me and still wondering how people put their amazing graphics into their blogs, check out this easy to understand tutorial. Just scroll down to the title "save for web".

If you haven't checked out Magda's blog Craft Pudding please do! You may just get the sudden impulse to start carving rubber stamps! I have all the supplies in my craft box from at least 10 years ago when I was messing around with printing on fabrics. My personal interests haven't swayed that much in all these least I'm consistent!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Woolly Embroidery

I've been meaning to share this discovery with all the embroidery enthusiasts out there. It's a new release from Chronicle Books titled Woolly Embroidery. Chronicle has been kind enough to translate the original version into English from Japanese. I love the modern simple shapes of the designs highlighted in this book, as well as the "woolliness" of them - which I guess is consistent with my love for crewel work.

If you collect books on embroidery you should definitely consider adding this one to you library!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Fashion Conscious - Tarisan & Blinkley

As promised (although a bit delayed) - I want to continue sharing some of the inspirational designers I've stumbled upon in the past few years. What continuously inspires me are women who manage to combine their passion for design and craft with social consciousness. Another such woman who qualifies (in my eyes) is Sarah Takesh. Her heritage is Iranian but she was raised in the United States. After stints working as a design assistant for Donna Karan and Michael Kors, she now lives and works in Kabul Afghanistan where she creates her own line of gorgeous women's clothing.

Sarah works hard to create economic oportunites for the women of Afganistan that just wouldn't exist if people like her were not investing their businesses in this area. She employs the creative talents of local women to embelish her clothing designs of hand loomed silk with elaborate embroideries and bead work. She even encourages them to create their own designs instead of following a set template!

Her designs are elaborate and stylish without being too fashion forward. As you can imagine in a country with a history of the Burka, the clothing is also tastefully modest, but stylish enough to appeal to her foreign markets.

Check out some of her new clothing lines here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

People Tree - Fair Trade Fashion

In the next few weeks I would like to share with you some of the inspirational designers I've discovered in the past few years. You will notice a common theme connecting them all, which is their interest in combining social responsibility with their businesses. These are values I respect a great deal, and I hope to some day make my mark in the world, while contributing to the economic livelihood of a community somewhere. (Most likely Mexico, because of my own personal connection to its people).

Safia Minney is an extraordinary visionary and pioneer in the world of Fair Trade Fashion. You may or may not have heard of her Fashion Company People Tree. It is based out of Japan (where she lives) and the UK (where most of her designers are located). The Mission Statement of People tree is "to use fashion as a tool to help the world's most marginalized people". Wow - what a great idea! It's so true that the world really doesn't need "another" new fashion label. So, why not at least make one with a good cause behind it?

People Tree works with 50 Fair Trade Groups in 15 different countries around the world to create beautiful clothing made of organic cotton, using fair trade practices and safe and natural dyes. The goal for the designers is to create fashion forward clothing using the MOST amount of labor possible! This goes completely against conventional thinking for mass produced clothing production. The designers for People Tree intentionally design hand techniques such as embroidery, beading or hand woven details into the garments so that more people will be needed to create the garments - thus giving more people a chance to earn money!

People Tree also offers internships to Fashion Students looking for work experience in the area of Fair Trade fashion. If such a thing had existed back when I was a design student I would have jumped at this opportunity!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A little progress...

I've been working away at this embroidery project in my spare moments for the past two weeks. It's finally starting to look like something...I'm teaching myself as I go along (to be totally honest I haven't embroidered anything in at least 18 years)!

Three books I've found enormously helpful are "The New Crewel", "The complete Guide to Embroidery Stitches" and "The Embroidery Stitch Bible" .

Have I mentioned that I replaced my eBay "habit" with an Amazon one?! You see it's just that I really hate shopping. I loathe it in fact. Then I discovered you can shop from the comfort of your own home and I haven't looked back. You know you've got issues when the six books Amazon is "suggesting" you might find interesting, based on your "user profile" - you already have!! I've got 3 more on order that haven't arrived yet... I'll share them next week.

Hope you had a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sustainable fashion & Organic Cotton

My apologies for such a rant in my last post about pollution. That was a topic I needed to get off my chest! I'll try to focus on more inspirational topics going forward. Every once in a while it's good to think about the heavier issues facing our lives too....

Now on to fashion! It's an interesting topic for me because although I have a degree in "fashion design" I have never considered myself to be a fashion designer - probably one of the main reasons which led me to working in the Outdoor Apparel industry for my career. I've always been very intimidated by the fashion world, its sophistication and obsession with beauty. Much of it conflicts with my own personal values, and issues with self esteem, body image etc...

Then along comes a designer who knocks me sideways with inspiration! This does not happen very often but when it does it hits hard. A co-worker had told me a bit about her because she could see how much I would love her work. However, I didn't give it much thought until I stumbled across her new book "Alabama Stitch Book" in the blogosphere, then her blog and website. The woman I'm speaking of is Natalie Chanin. Yes, I'm sure you have already heard about her and Alabama Chanin, her re-launched business.

Her love of all things made by hand, passion for sustainability in fashion, commitment to working with organic cotton and desire to keep her business small and local are the perfect combination of an ideal business to me. I can't wait to receive her new book! in Canada gets new releases after they launch in the USA which is frustrating but expected for us folks in the North!

I've already read numerous glowing blog reviews of her new book "Alabama Stitch Book" and you can link to them here and here.

Another inspirational fabric designer I would like to highlight is Harmony of Harmony Art. She has made a commitment to only using Organic Cotton for her fabric designs. How inspiring to read about a woman who not only designs her own fabric prints, but also produces the finished fabric! It has been a long slow labor of love for her to build this business from the ground up. You can read about her challenges and triumphs in her blog "The Journey is the prize".

That's it for today I must run off to work now!


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Manufacturing and Global Pollution

How's that for a heavy blog title?! Thank you Bari for requesting more about my travels.... Because it was a work trip and not a personal holiday I've been thinking a great deal about what I should talk about. Should I make it funny and light hearted or talk about my biggest impression from the trip which was pollution?

First off I would like to say the company I work for is extremely progressive and ethical about their manufacturing policies. This is one of the reasons why I returned to work for them 3 years ago. You can link to them here (but I'm not going to type the name because they publish links to blogs talking about them every month to the entire organization). I really don't want my little craft blog highlighted to everyone I work with!! Please do check out the website, it has won all kinds of awards for online retailing.

This leads me to another related topic which is "The Story of Stuff". It is a video talking about the earth, our place on it, how we are killing our planet with our enormous demands for more "stuff" which is being manufactured in developing countries such as India and China. The video is very well done, and even though it is a heavy topic it doesn't lecture in such a heavy handed way as to make you flee! It's spoken in easy to understand English that even kids would understand. I couldn't stop thinking about this video while in China. We drove past factory after factory after factory and all I could see was the hazy silhouettes if large buildings though the thick smog of pollution. I do feel morally conflicted to be working in an industry that is still contributing to this global pollution.

I guess this is a contributing reason to my gravitation into the crafting community. I have a desire to return to live a more simple life where things are still made by hand....

I understand that manufacturing in developing countries helps the livelihoods of the impoverished people living there, but it needs to be done in a more responsible way. Organizations manufacturing in these countries need to put more pressure on factories to manufacture with less polluting practices.

I'm sorry this blog post turned into an environmental rant but this has been on my mind for the past week. Please check out "The Story of Stuff" and share it with your friends and family. It is a topic worth passing along.

I promise something more "crafty" in my next post! I've been working on some new embroidery projects.

Cheers, Jodi

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Around the world in 20 days!


I'm back from what feels like a whirlwind trip around the world. It wasn't really, but I did visit 6 different cities in India in 10 days as well as Hong Kong and Shanghai in the following 8! It was not a tourist holiday, I was working and visiting clothing factories for the company I work for. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to take such an interesting trip and get paid for it. We manufacture Organic cotton clothing in India and not only did we visit the factories which make our clothing, we also got to visit some of the local farms which grow the organic cotton. All in all a very inspiring trip.

Now it's time to get back to regular life again - I sure did miss reading all my usual blogs. It feels like so much has happened in the past 3 weeks. I didn't take nearly as many photos as I had hoped. I can pin this down to 2 reasons: the first being that I really wasn't prepared for traveling with a digital camera. Boy did I learn a lesson! Always travel with an extra battery and memory card. So many photo ops were missed due to my camera malfunctions!! The second reason being that most of the trip was seen through passenger windows as we whizzed by in a car! I'm not used to traveling this way, but it was necessary with the packed itinerary we had.

I also traveled with way too much stuff and ended up naming my suitcase the elephant! Did I really think I would have time to embroider?! That was very ambitious of me to think so. I found lots of inspiration though, but very little time.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the trip. It's so good to be home!

Monday, February 25, 2008


Well - not done really, but planned! I'm off to India and China for 3 weeks to visit apparel factories for my work (day job work that is). I need some crafty projects to keep me entertained while I'm gone so I've planned to dive back into embroidery.

My signed copy of Doodle Stitching arrived today and the other 3 embroidery books I ordered on Amazon were shipped yesterday! I only wish I could embroider on the plane. It's that darned "no scissors" rule that really gets in the way. I have 15 flights in total on this trip so there will be a lot of waiting around time....

I'll try and post some pictures while I'm away. I'll have a laptop with me and hopefully I'll be able to find a few good internet connections. Even though I'll be looking at Tee shirts and pants during the day, I'll be hunting for embroidery and colourful fabrics in my off work time!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Jicama Salad

I didn't do any Crafting this weekend so I thought I would share a recipe instead. This is a fast and easy Jicama salad and works as a great side dish with Mexican food. I served mine along side Chicken Enchiladas.

Jicamas are not the easiest thing to find in Vancouver but sometimes the Chinese veggie markets sell them, and the gourmet grocery stores usually always have them (at twice the cost)! I suspect they are more abundant in the United States.

Ingredients for Salad:

- 1 Jicima peeled and sliced into long strips
- 1 red sweet pepper sliced into long strips
- 1 orange sweet pepper sliced into long strips
- 1/2 red onion diced small
- 1 can of corn
- cilantro chopped fine

Ingredients for Dressing:

- 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp. orange juice
- 1 Tbsp. grainy mustard
- juice of 1 lime

Mix all ingredients for the salad together in a large bow. Wisk together the Dressing ingredients and pour onto salad just before serving.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Feelin' Stitchy Valentine

I've been so excited to use my new Crewel wool embroidery thread that I decided to stitch up these little hearts for my Valentine. I used wool from the charm packs I purchased from this lovely Etsy seller Feltpro. I stuffed them with cotton balls to make them a bit "plump" and that was it! I was pleased with how they turned out, but I need to practice my stitching skills. I'm rusty...

Happy Valentines Day everyone!

Jodi xxx

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

So Crewel!

Sorry I just couldn't resist the pun! This Crewel embroidery thread was waiting for me in the mailbox when I arrived home today. I'm bursting with excitement over this! I've been wanting to get back into embroidery and was totally inspired when I discovered Aimee Rae's book Doodle Stitching. This is exactly the style of embroidery I love so much. I have to travel over seas for work in March and I think this will be the perfect project to take along for those long boring nights in hotels.

The thread is from Renaissance Dyes in France. The colours are gorgeous and earthy, all done with natural plant based dyes & it's 100% merino wool. The quality is excellent and their shipping is fast and reasonable, considering it is coming from Europe.

Now I just need to find a nice linen fabric to embroider onto!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tie One On!

I finally managed to whip up an Apron for this month's "Tie One On" Flickr group. The theme for February's Aprons was Polka dots! I've been "thinking" about making an Apron for this group for the past year - every deadline comes and goes, and my apron remains untouched. Finally tonight I gave myself only 2 hours to come up with something simple. Better a simple Apron than no Apron! I've named this Apron "How does your garden grow"....The fabrics are random scraps that I had on hand and some vintage rick-rack I purchased on eBay (about a year ago) when I first started thinking about making Aprons!

Monday, January 14, 2008

More fabric!

I forgot to mention that I won some fabric in a blog giveaway before Christmas. I was lucky enough to score these great fabric prints from Linda Lum DeBono. If you aren't already familiar with her work, be sure to check out her blog or website! She is an accomplished quilter, knitwear designer, fabric designer and author.

Now, what should I do with these fun fabrics? Maybe a new Polka dot apron for this month's "Tie One on" Apron theme?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Something new!


Finally a new project to warrant a blog post. The crafting has been few and far between these past few months. I spent the better part of my Christmas holidays making a cover for our new down duvet. I wanted it to "feel" like a quilt which is why I chose to do a patchwork composition for the main top part of the cover. I've been collecting Amy Butler fabrics for almost a year now and I finally had a place to use them all - yes I used every last fat quarter I had for this quilt top!

I really let the design of this duvet evolve organically. In the end it turned out quite different than what I imagined it would be when I started. This was due mostly to the limiting colours of sheets for sale after all the Boxing day madness (which I avoided). By the time I showed up in the stores all the good sheet colours were well picked over. Originally I thought would like blue borders and pillow cases. However I couldn't find any blues that worked with the colours of the prints. In the end I settled for something I like a whole lot more (and might not have even considered) if I had found blue right from the start. The coordinating sheets I picked are white with a small beige geometric print. I decided to go with beige and brown as my two border colours (due to lack of blues) and because browns are really the secondary colours in these prints.

In the end I think the cover turned out looking more modern with the brown accents. I'm glad I was open enough to consider other options - I also had cut out another Amy Butler print initially as the final border but decided it was just too much pattern and opted with the brown....

I tried to plan the quilt and lay out the measurements in Illustrator before I started but in the end resorted to quick pencil sketches and my trusty calculator. I still find this the fastest way to work!

As with any good quilt photo - I asked my cat Weasel to pose for me! She didn't really get into it until I had already started shooting with her stuffed cat toy....because she got jealous!