Sunday, January 5, 2014

Bay Area Treasure Trove

Whenever I get a chance to visit a city/town I usually google (or ask fellow bloggers) and try to find out if there are any unusual fabric places around. This time it was no different. I happen to be in the Bay area this winter and found myself in this warehouse store in Mountain View.
Fabrics that would usually be thrown in the trash get collected by dedicated volunteers, sorted and offered to the public for a nominal donation. It opens to the public on a particular day each month.
Fortunately in December 2013 I happened to be in the area and quickly made an appointment for a 45 minute time slot. It was not difficult to find the place. The door opens to a parking lot and there is a sign in front. A volunteer greeted us at the front door and tallied our name against her appointment list. The whole idea is to limit people so the place does not get unusually crowded, yet give everybody a chance to shop. We bought some curtain material by the yard ($2.00) flat rate, and collected a bag full of other smaller pieces which were mostly designer upholstery pieces.
I also found some embroidery books and vintage patterns to add to my bag.
Lots of goodies!

Years ago one summer in Oklahoma a much younger me with a younger husband and younger kids had hand stitched this pillowcase and sheet sets in shades of blue. It was a wonderful summer filled with wonderful memories. Nostalgia took over me and I just couldn't help myself grabbing the book! Just another excuse to hoard!

There were also floor tiles and wallpapers. As I was sorting through the huge pile of fabrics I was thinking that one has to be quite creative to reuse these miscellaneous assortment of fabrics. And many crafty people are actually doing so. I missed this years boutique where local artisans showcased their art using the materials from fabmo. Visit their website to find out about their wonderful workshops. This whole idea is so intriguing and innovative and it makes me wonder why more of these green projects have not become more popular. I guess this is because it is a totally volunteer driven organization that requires a lot of work and passion.

The other place of interest is Lacis. Over the years I had ordered some European magazines from this place by mail order and I was aware of their online store. What I was not aware was that they actually have a retail store in Berkeley and a lace museum that has centuries of laces as far back as  the 1500's!

Mr. Jules was an inspirational orator who gave us a tour of the lace museum.  My point of interest was the Richelieu magazines and the transfers. I wanted to hold the books in my hand and browse through them! The book collection is huge - anything and everything related to textiles, needlework, needle technique, costumes and designs.

The book alley
Of course I came home with 3 cut work magazines - I love cut work. It is just too difficult and expensive to get a direct subscription from Italy.

My stash!
A lot has been written about this cutwork by Jeanine in her 'Italian Needlework' blog. With the permission of the store I have tried to captured some a glimpse of this place with our IPhone.

Inside the store
More pictures of the store.

If you ever get the chance to visit Berkeley, it is an interesting place to check out!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Harnessing the power of OM

I had this in my wishlist for ages. Finally when I saw my best friend Jasbir's blog post about the benefits of yoga, I knew I should not put off this project any longer. Also I was visiting my dd and thought this would make a good holiday gift for her.

I wanted a lined bag (because I cannot stand exposed seams) with a good sized pocket and Nigella's pattern was logical and easy. However it is slightly short in length for my liking. With a little bit of embroidery (Om was very important for me I had it in my file since 2008 just for this purpose!) the bag has turned out quite nice and most of all my dd likes it.
So my dd march on towards a new year and overcome the obstacles and distractions of life with ease and grace.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

An ode to Kakima

Up cycling a spaghetti jar with an embroidered wrap

My disclaimer - No this is not a poem and I am absolutely hopeless at composing anything with a formal stanzaic structure. It is my sincere attempt to show my admiration and reverence for Kakima.

A family consisting of a father, mother and daughter had moved to our small town. A common friend introduced us to them. The daughter was enrolled in the same school and grade as my sister. After their initial visit to our home we were invited to their house one evening. The house had a tidy little courtyard with a strip of garden around the border that was adorned with some colorful croton shrubs. The living room was modestly furnished, but what was striking about the room was the daintily embroidered linens all over the room.
Hand Embroidered Table cloth

The blue curtains were embroidered with a border of tiny white lazy daisy flowers. The coffee table had a white appliqued morning glory vine frame. I guess it was at this point that when 'All things pretty' had started taking its root in my unconscious mind. I was quite accustomed to seeing some very exquisite heirloom embroidery at my own home, yet this house had a special touch of flair and elegance that influenced me profoundly. The expression of style was very unique and showed an exuberance of passion.

Now here is the real reason why I am writing this blog today.
I came home restless. I wanted to OWN those beautiful designs. I fantasized about stitching them out. After a few visits when our acquaintance grew a little warmer, I gathered up all my courage.  (In my mind I had replayed this instance many times and everytime the outcome was negative. I was intimated by Kakima's serious countenance!) I timidly asked her 'Kakima may I borrow your designs for a few days?' She promptly stood up, left the room, walked to the other room and brought back her complete file of collected designs. As she handed them over to me she said, 'Sure this is all for the next generation, if you do guys do not make use of this then who will?' I was left speechless and I dont think I even thanked her.

These were days before xerox machines or scanners were in vogue. So, for the next fortnight I spent all my spare time carbon copying every single design in the folder. I should have traced them instead of carbon copying them. My guilt bothers me to this day. I hope my candid admission will help me not to linger on this piece of shame for too long.

Kitchen Linens

 Times have changed and my embroidery methods have evolved. These days I pursue my artistic endeavor with sophisticated software and machines. But the influence you made on a 12 year old has lasted for a lifetime. I have carried the image of your house over a thousand miles across the ocean. THANK YOU Kakima for this lasting impression.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rooster quilt placemats

Speaking of New Orleans, here is a shy hen hiding in the thicket at the city park of NOLA. The New Orleans public parks are some of the prettiest and well maintained parks that I have ever seen. Most surprisingly they host an abundance of hens, roosters, ducks, swans, and rabbits. Unfortunately, due to the frequent rain we could not get a clear picture of these animals.

However, it did inspire this blog post. The designs are from Hatched in Africa.

And napkins to go along. 

I fondly reminisce growing up with a small chicken coop in our dainty garden. So many memories of those carefree days have already faded, but I still remember waking up on a spring morning feeling the joy and ecstasy of holding the  just hatched tiny fuzzy balls that were chicklets in my palm.

So here is another kitchen towel with my favorite flock of birds.

This quilt project is also my first contribution to the Desi Quilters facebook group.

Friday, October 25, 2013

I digress...

I am not even half done and it already looks so pretty! I had to stop for a day since I ran out of glue sticks. These pine cones were collected during my morning walks with Simmi when I was visiting my dd in New Orleans a few months back. Hot humid summer brought the inception of this project in anticipation of a cool and gentle autumn.

Finally I am done with my fall wreaths that now adorn the entrance doors.I feel happy, and it has already uplifted my spirit.

I also wanted some autumn bouquets for the inside and Emblibrary had one just in time to celebrate fall.
A close up
I wanted to stitch out the bigger size but the design needed rotating. But my circumstances leave me helpless - my perfectly working PSW 2.0 has suddenly refused to budge. And this happened way before mercury went retrograde!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I was tagged...

Usually I do check my emails quite regularly, but these past couple of weeks I was not quite myself worrying for dh's ill health, several deadlines and etc.When I finally did check my emails, I was delighted to see some new comments on my blog and an invitation to play tag with Gayle of Embroiderymad. This was sitting in my "drafts" for quite some time, so I have updated a few of the things accordingly.

Here is what she would like to know about me.

1.  What is your favorite craft?

Undoubtedly it is 'Embroidery', but particularly it is machine embroidery at this stage of my life. I have been hand embroidering forever and all the inspirations were right at home. My mother is an avid sewer, knitter and an excellent embroiderer.

Here is where I have blogged about the inspiration that came from my home. Machine embroidery may be the broad topic, but really what I am most enthusiastic about is taking a piece of art work, digitizing it and stitching it out. Needless to say I also own tons of designs from various talented designers. I also love to sew and crochet.

2.   Do you have a special room  for craft?

Yes, I have my own small little room that is so filled with books, machines, computer, fabrics and threads that my work almost always spills out into the adjacent dining area.

3.   Do you live in a large city or a small town?

20 years ago Austin, Texas might have qualified as a small town, but not any more.

4.   What are your favourite colors?

I love the 'earthy' tones, which symbolize groundedness and reliability.

5.   Do you have any animals?

I would love to have a dog - but I am not sure if I will ever feel ready to take the responsibility. My daughter just adopted an 8 month old miniature pinscher and I have had the opportunity to enjoy her and even make her some winter clothing.

Adorable puppy!

6.   Do you like to cook?

I did at one point!

7.   Do you use recycle goods or do you always buy new ones for your craft?

I try to recycle as much as possible, as long as I can avoid the temptation of 'new'.

8.   Do you have a craft group or do you just do your own thing?

This is one thing I miss the most. I do teach a small group of PSW 2.0 (embroidery software) users at the local sewing store.

8.   Do you grow your own veggies?

It seems like the entire population of squirrels are feasting on my veggie patch! Thus the only yield is a shrub full of hot green peppers! Does anyone have any ideas on how to control these pests?

Spinach, okra and opo squash.


9.   How many craft books do you have?

I have so many and I still want more and more and more.

These are a few books I picked up on my recent trip abroad.

10. What is your favorite TV show.

Big Bang Theory

11.  Do you check emails and blogs as soon as you get up in the morning?

I love to see comments on my blog, I think I should check it more often from now on.

11 things about me:
Digitizing and embroidery is my creative outlet. Hence this blog!
I am a Capricorn like Gayle. I follow the horoscopes of all my family members and find them to be entertaining and occasionally provide me with hope and courage.
I am a New Years baby.
I love roses. At heart, I'm a true romantic.
Dogs are my favorite animal. So trustworthy and they unconditionally love.
My favorite book is "It Does Not Die". In fact, I named my daughter after the main character.
I love spicy cuisine.
I love to keep a list of resolutions. A day to day, week to week, month to month and finally a year to year! With such stringent structure, I do feel very exhausted when I see I am behind on my to-do list. There's always something that doesn't get done or only got done halfway. I have changed my outlook since the beginning of 2012 and have tried to look at the work that I completed instead of what I didn't complete. I feel much more relaxed and this positive attitude has helped me accomplish a lot more this year.
Cheesecake is my favorite dessert.
For the longest time, I had a hard time accepting my first name.