lukawoods

When I was a little girl, I thought that you were born with all the children you would have already in your body (which, in a way, you kind of are). I thought it was all predetermined for you from birth and you just sort of popped them out as needed. I was also convinced that people looked so terribly different on their wedding days that I might not even recognize the person I was supposed to marry — like I might mistake his best man or one of his groomsmen for him and accidentally marry them instead. I remember remembering that as I walked down the aisle towards Mark, one of the only coherent thoughts I had amidst all of my sheer terror of being in front of people. I went through a phase where I was OBSESSED with the colours my house would be when I was grown. I remember lying in bed one night, freaking out about it and unable to sleep. Eventually I decided on blue with white trim and I could relax (our house is green). Also: we had these orange-yellow light fixtures hanging from the ceiling over the entrance landing in our house, and when I was three years old, my mother told me we would be visiting India and I was convinced that we would get there by climbing into the glass orbs and somehow climbing out in my grandparents’ house.

I thought I was going somewhere with this, but I guess I’m not, not really. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how all-consuming things seem when you’re young — how when you’re watching a movie or hanging out with friends you’re just so in it. At least, that’s how I used to be, and then I lost that for a long time and I’m trying to find my way back to it. Maybe it’s different for kids now, because of cell phones and iPods and Twitter. I am so eternally grateful that Facebook didn’t exist when I was in junior high, that I (just barely) missed the major heyday of social media and cell phones. I had a hard enough adolescence without the constant presence of wall updates and Instagram photos of people’s amazing lives.

I think this sounds bitter; I don’t mean it to be. I am as guilty of technology addiction as anyone else. There are days when I check my email more than ten times. I also think there’s a lot of value in being able to reach out to someone across the globe. There have been many times when I’ve felt less alone because of a blog post from someone in California or England. Like anything else, the problem isn’t the source of the addiction, it’s your own interaction with it. Does that sound smart? I think it does.

ANYWAY. This has been on my mind because I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure to document my life lately, both because of the blog and also because it can feel really good to receive positive feedback from people about things you’re showing them. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but I need to be careful not to let that need for documentation to overwhelm my actual experience of something. I want to be more like my sweet friend Julie, who, more than anyone I know, is so completely involved in whatever she’s doing. We still write and mail letters to each other, something we’ve done for more than ten years. She can be a terrible e-mailer, but that’s okay! I totally understand why, and I wouldn’t change that about her. It would never, ever, ever occur to her to pull her phone out of her bag and place it on the table at a restaurant. I love this about her. When she’s listening to you, she is completely present, and so empathetic that it’s completely obvious why she’s a nurse. What a gift that is — the feeling of truly being listened to, and not judged, just heard. I want to be more like Julie. I want to be able to watch a movie and not have my mind racing, thinking about cleaning the sink or free-motion quilting, or what I might have for dinner the next night. I want to take Luka for a walk and think only about my immediate experience of that event — the damp air, how stupidly happy he looks racing towards me when I call him back. This is a lofty goal and I know I’ll spend my whole life trying to attain it. I need to remind myself of it every single day.

Some photos from last week. I fell back in love with quilting and whipped up this giant log cabin-style baby quilt in two days. I’m finishing the hand binding right now but will be back with more pictures of it soon.

indianquilt

Mark helped me turn this terribly average photo…

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…into my Etsy store banner!

etsy header

I love him for so many reasons, but chief among them this week has been  the fact that he’s held my hand through this entire process. Also, have I ever mentioned that he makes my coffee for me every single morning?

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Mark’s brother and his girlfriend gave us this beautiful plant last week and this is the first houseplant I’ve ever owned (except for my windowsill herbs, which are usually outside). I don’t know why I’ve never bought one before — this is actually making washing dishes tolerable.

Back soon with more thoughtful ruminations pictures of Tim Riggins!

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Writing descriptions. Rechecking colour combinations. Drooling over floss.

sunshinefloss

Two dinner parties — momos, chana masala, payasam (from a mix, don’t tell my grandmother). Then: turkey lasagna, salad, apple pie.

momos

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applepie

Quilt binding by candlelight. Not even remotely understanding Game of Thrones. Falling in love with singing all over again. Fumbling my way back to the piano.

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quiltbinding

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The light in the woods, and how all I could think that day was, “Thank you.”

lukawoods

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Well, “soon” is a relative term, yes? I think I’ve been avoiding it here because I’m scared to talk about the process of opening the Etsy shop. Perhaps that’s because I have little to no idea what I’m actually doing. However! I do have a secret weapon in the form of my sweet, red-bearded husband who actually knows things about photography and marketing and who patiently walks me through pretty much each and every step of this process. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I married the nicest boy on earth.

Last week we gathered up all the samples I’d embroidered and staged a little photoshoot. I had spent a lot of time on Etsy browsing the photography of various sellers, and also looking at what kinds of things they tend to feature on the home page. A lot of sellers have their products set against stark white backgrounds, which can be very effective when it comes to certain types of products — a bag or pottery, for example, but I felt that I needed to place my embroidery in some sort of context so that potential buyers could imagine it in their own homes.

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jj

I mean, let’s be honest — these aren’t going to win any photography awards, but at least there’s a bit of framework there.

Then we took some closeups to highlight the details.

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There is little-to-no editing done to these, as they needed to be a true representation of the pieces. Just a bit of cropping and the occasional lightening up to show the colours more accurately.

There are about 50 more pictures, but I’ll spare you having to look at them. Instead, take a look at this amazing cleaning schedule I made up! I got all twitchy last week about the state of our house and decided that we needed a very detailed and precise list of when to do which things in the house. If we adhere to this even 50% of the time, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

cleaning sched

And a few more snapshots of last week — embroidery, knitting, DOG DOG DOG DOG.

flossboss

knitmitts

lukafinn

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lukamat

lukapirate

Last night as I was lying in bed, drifting off and in a half-awake state, I just kept thinking, “I love the dog. I love the dog. I love the dog”, and then I fell asleep.

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Behold! The Posie alphabet sampler! It took all year, but I loved working on it. Of course, mine is not nearly as neatly pressed and framed as hers, and though I first attempted it with crewel yarn, I quickly reverted to my old standby, DMC embroidery floss. I will one day write a blog post about how much I love everything Alicia makes and even more than that, how her writing makes me pretty much bow down in awe.

I started this last January, and worked on it in a total of nine countries. I began work on it in Hong Kong, in the teensy-tiniest hostel room I’ve ever seen, with a miniscule bathroom that had clear glass walls, so that every time one of us needed to, ahem, use the facilities, we would make the other person promise to bury their faces in a book, facing the wall. I carried it with me through Japan, Vietnam, and the UK. I worked on it in the sweetest little apartment we rented in Montmartre, half a block down the street from the greengrocer in my beloved Amélie. I took it to Belgium, and then to Germany, where I had the roughest two weeks of the year in Berlin, so desperate to go home but terrified to bail on this trip we had planned for years. I was so miserable and homesick. I don’t know if I ever want to go back to Berlin because of that. I remember wanting so badly to do something reminded me of home, so I googled endlessly until I found a tiny fabric store near Alexanderplatz. They had a small selection of needlework notions and I was so happy I felt like crying. I bought some Aida 14-count fabric and a few skeins of floss and I felt like I had found some small piece of myself in that miniscule shop. I know this sounds so melodramatic and overexaggerated, but that’s the only way I can describe it.

I think this ‘G’ was my favourite letter to embroider, despite the fact that it’s all just french knots. I really like french knots, though I know that a lot of people find them finnicky. I like that I couldn’t figure out how to do them at all until my 85-year-old grandmother taught me, in our old house closer to town. She’d come for a visit after the wedding, and we spent a lot of time sitting on the couch embroidering together.

I finished the sampler a few days before Christmas, on the couch in our new house, with the fire blazing and Mark sitting next to me. I finished it so far away from where I started it, and I really love that it will always remind of this year where so much happened and in which I learned so much about myself. It took a year of travelling to realize that I’m truly happy staying in one place. So much changed this year that it felt very reassuring to have a project to work on that was constant. I’m probably assigning way too much sentiment to this, but that’s just how I roll.

Miscellaneous scenes from Christmas/New Years, including a visit from my newly-engaged best friend (Luka fell in love with her), lots of sewing and knitting, and our traditional hermit-like New Year’s Eve. This year we made momos and drank sparkling sake at midnight. Then I went straight to bed, because it is absolutely RIDICULOUS to be up that late. I only did it for Mark.

Yeah, I own a Hogwarts wax seal. Doesn’t everyone?

I’ll be back soon with real actual business-y updates. We hiked Mount Work on New Year’s Day, and poor puppers was just so exhausted when we got home that he forgot he was a 75-pound dog and morphed into a cat.

Should I be jealous?

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