Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Favorite Friend: Blair Stocker of Wise Craft Handmade

How is it possible that we haven't featured Blair Stocker on our Favorite Friends series?? Blair has been an Assemble role model and pal since the very beginning! A quilter and handmade guru by trade, Blair's blog and new book, Wise Craft: Turning Thrift Store Finds, Fabric Scraps, and Natural Objects Into Stuff You Love are a great source for projects that any level crafter can accomplish. Plus, she's one of the nicest ladies we know! We adore her and we know that you will too:


•••

You have been a craft blogger for quite a while and have recently added "author" to your resume! Tell us about your new book, Wise Craft: Turning Thrift Store Finds, Fabric Scraps, and Natural Objects Into Stuff You Love.
Wise Craft is all about telling your family's story throughout your home with all kinds of handmade projects. There are 60 projects in the book, divided by four seasonal chapters, spanning hand crafts like quilting, crochet, knitting, and other unexpected ways to DIY your home. My hope in writing this book is that those who don't necessarily feel crafty, or aren't sure where to start will find color and project inspiration inside the pages. The book shows how I use repurposed, thrifted materials to make entirely new, beautiful things for the home.


Was there anything about the publishing process that surprised you? Did you enjoy it?
I loved the publishing process. It was challenging, no doubt, and there was so much to learn along the way, but I had an agent and editor who were incredibly helpful and supportive. The timeline allowed me to keep focused in my studio (I can tend to wander creatively) and really dig deep into what I love to do, make things!

What is your favorite project in the book?
There are so many favorites! I love the quilt projects at the end of each chapter. Quilt making is a passion of mine. But I also love the projects that peaked the interest of my husband, Peter, and son, Ian, like the leather-wrapped rocks.


Do you have any new projects coming up?

I may have started a new book proposal, I am also teaching projects from my book in Seattle and Portland. I will be teaching a class at Schoolhouse Craft Conference in September on writing a book proposal. I am also a regular contributor to the Creativebug blog.

What is your favorite aspect of the work that you do?
I love the actual creating and sewing part of my job. There is really nothing more satisfying than having a whole work day ahead of me to sew, or create something new.


What would you change if you could?
As great as it is to be your own boss, it can be incredibly frustrating. I'd love to hire out all the business-related tasks.

What is your dream job besides what you are doing now?
Actually I think I'm doing my dream job! I truly love what I do, making things with my hands will always be a passion. Working from home, I have the flexibility to be with my kids often. I love the ability to do what I love, and be present with the people that I love, at the same time.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Cake. Any kind. Every day.

Dream vacation?
Japan with my husband. He and I both love traveling there, but have never been there together.

And finally, who are your role models in business?
My business role model is Denyse Schmidt. She has a focused aesthetic, a wonderfully keen sense of color, and is well respected for what she does. She has made a living creating beautiful quilts and fabric.

In life?
I think my role model in life is more of a combination of important people I've known and the qualities they have.

•••

Thank you, Blair! Visit Blair's website, Wise Craft Handmade, and follow her on Twitter, Facebook or sign up for her newsletter.

Photos courtesy Blair Stocker of Wise Craft.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Crafty Project: Happy Cloud Felt Wall Mobile

Happy Cloud Felt Wall Mobile DIY Tutorial

I asked my husband what I should all this mobile project post, and he answered, "Cloudy with a Chance of Baby." Perfect! We've got a little one on the way this December, and after finding (and buying!) a few mobiles, I was never satisfied with any of them. Those awesome geometric mobiles? Yeah, they don't stay together. And even the cutest over-the-crib mobiles seem like they will get in the way with such a small crib. (We're using a mini). So, I went ahead and decided to make a wall mobile myself! See below for instructions for your own Happy Cloud Felt Wall Mobile.

Happy Cloud Felt Wall Mobile DIY Tutorial

You will need:
• about 1/3 yard of felt for your cloud
• several smaller sheets of felt in whatever colors you'd like for your droplets--one per color (don't forget to include black for your cloud's face)
• invisible thread or fishing line
• poly-fil or stuffing material
• scissors
• a needle
• pins
• a sewing machine

Happy Cloud Felt Wall Mobile DIY Tutorial

Cut out your cloud shape, depending on the size of the wall space you'll be hanging. Mine is roughly 21"wide x 14" high.

Cut out your little face for your cloud. I went with simple happy, but we had a lot of fun testing all sorts of smiley/frowny shapes.

Happy Cloud Felt Wall Mobile DIY Tutorial

Pin the face where you'd like it to stay, then stitch on your sewing machine or by hand with black thread to keep in place.

Happy Cloud Felt Wall Mobile DIY Tutorial

After your face is completely stitched, pin the cloud onto another piece of the same color felt. This will be the back of your fluffy cloud. Stitch carefully around all of the curves of the cloud with your sewing machine. Remember to leave enough space unstitched to fill the cloud with stuffing.

Happy Cloud Felt Wall Mobile DIY Tutorial

After sewing your cloud to it's backing (and left it's stuffing hole), cut completely flush around the cloud's curves for an even finish. Tip: around the stuffing hole, I like to leave a little extra for stitching, just in case the stuffing affects the amount you have to work with.

Happy Cloud Felt Wall Mobile DIY Tutorial

Stuff your cloud using poly-fil or a similar stuffing material. Don't over-fill your cloud. You'll want this to be a loose stuffing.

Happy Cloud Felt Wall Mobile DIY Tutorial

To make your droplets, create a template that you can use on each color to cut around. Mine was roughly 2" x 4". Cut each felt sheet in half. Place one half to the side for the backing of the droplet. I got about 5-6 droplets out of each half sheet.

Happy Cloud Felt Wall Mobile DIY Tutorial

Finish cutting all of your droplets. You will most likely have a lot more than you will use on your mobile, but it's always best to be prepared, especially if you want a very rainy cloud!

Happy Cloud Felt Wall Mobile DIY Tutorial

Pin all of your droplet's to the other half of the felted sheet that you set aside. Around 5-6 should fit comfortably with enough space for stitching.

Happy Cloud Felt Wall Mobile DIY Tutorial

Using the sewing machine, stitch all the way around each of the droplets. You can also use this time to stuff them with poly-fil if you'd like a puffier droplet, but I simply sewed them to a backing to add depth.

Happy Cloud Felt Wall Mobile DIY Tutorial

After sewing all of your droplets, cut flush around the edges of each droplet.

Happy Cloud Felt Wall Mobile DIY Tutorial

To tie your droplets together, cut a long piece of invisible thread, and knot the end. Thread this length into a needle and stitch into the pointy tip of a droplet. Pull the thread all the way out until the knot catches. Tie a knot at the top of that droplet to keep in place. Then with the same thread, thread a new droplet tip, and pull the thread all the way through until you are satisfied with the space between the droplets. Knot the thread at the tip to keep the second droplet in place. Continue this process until you have about four droplets on each thread (or however many you'd like). Then, stitch the end of the threaded/knotted droplets through the bottom of the cloud and tie a knot. Cut off any excess.

Repeat this process until you are satisfied with the amount of droplet strings you have hanging from your cloud.

To hang, simply thread a piece of invisible thread several times through the top point of the cloud and tie to a nail or hook next to the crib or changing table. Make sure it's tied super tight (I even put some tape on the thread over the hook). You don't want it falling onto your baby!

And there you have it! Enjoy!

Happy Cloud Felt Wall Mobile DIY Tutorial

Monday, July 14, 2014

Those Girls: If a Tree Falls In the Woods...

If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around to Instagram it, does it make a sound?

We started our Those Girls series as a portal for reality, and it's been a while since we wrote a post--for good reason, of course. The reason being life! We've been working on a book project together; and separately, I've been working on my branding business and am in my nineteenth week of pregnancy, and Emily is busy renovating her house while chasing after two rambunctious toddlers. There are days that go by when we don't even touch social media, and I have to admit that this makes me particularly anxious. Will our friends and customers forget about us if we don't Twitter/Instagram/Blog/Facebook/Pinterest (TIBFP) every portion of our day? The truth: I don't really think so. Our readership numbers remain steady, even on quiet days. In that case, what exactly is the social media race for?


Lately (perhaps I can blame this on pregnancy hormones) I've been noticing that after I spend some time browsing TIBFP, I'm exhausted. I'm exhausted by the mirage of perfection. Before these platforms were made available, we were able to get our lifestyle inspiration in small doses: in a magazine, a craft book, on a TV show, in Martha Stewart's trashcan. The images and articles were pitched, styled, photographed and marketed directly to a customer that could consume at their leisure and discard at will. Today, however, these images of lifestyle glory are constant, and in our faces 24/7, mostly by our own allowance. I can't even turn on my phone without mindlessly pressing the "Instagram" app and browsing through photos almost first thing in the morning. A bright and early reminder that many talented people are doing life perfectly: a perfect meal, perfect floral arrangement, perfectly-styled pickling party that I wasn't invited to (but knew just who was, according to the tags), or perfect vacation. What kind of message is this to send oneself several times a day? Even the most secure, hard-working and cheerful person has days when "you're doing it wrong" is the main message being sent by these images. Why don't we feel this way when we look at magazines? Here's why--> because we accept that these magazines are put together by professionals, doing their jobs and being paid for them. Today, it's easy to dismiss an Instagram photo as part of a blogger or creative's perfect everyday life with no preparation or styling whatsoever. That's their life. PERIOD. Definitely not so...we forget what she's trying to sell us. This is her job.

Let's acknowledge the fact that social media isn't going anywhere, and that a person can choose to either acclimate to the current culture or completely reject it. Neither is the right or wrong answer, but I find the former easiest because let's face it:

1. I truly enjoy remaining connected with old friends.
2. Deleting accounts leads to social ostracization merely by default, not by unkindness.
3. It's kind of my job.

So where do we go from there? I find that the culture of popularity, and the inherent need for acceptance is at the root of this problem. We all want to be told that we're doing it right. That's what that trusty "like" button is for. It's almost ironic that these words are being posted via blogger. This is how we communicate, and how we understand each other. Our posts say a lot about how we view ourselves and how we want to view ourselves. Here are two completely possible scenarios:

1. "I made the most perfectly deliciously gorgeous birthday cake with perfect frosting and sprinkle 'scatterage' and I'm going to share it with everyone because it's awesome. I am a great chef and a fabulous hostess. SHARE. like. like. like."
2. "My house looks like The Purge happened there and I am way too lazy to lift a finger, other than to put that Trader Joe's O into my mouth and then back to the box for more. I am a failing at making myself and my family perfect, organic, grassfed meals. This may ruin my personal brand. DO NOT SHARE."

My mother and I have always agreed that women would rule the world if we would just stop trying to one-up one another! I know what you're thinking. "Andie, that's just a picture of an adorable toddler's ice cream social catered by Target with a professional photographer, stylist, and product endorsements--it has nothing to do with shaming other women. Get a grip!" Don't get me wrong, I love a good ice cream social (just kidding, I can't eat ice cream), but the fact that lifestyle bloggers have cornered the market in lifestyle products and books makes me very wary, especially because we still insist on viewing them as "regular people." In reality, most of these very successful career bloggers have a lot of money and sponsors with which to style events, decorate rooms in their home and buy outfit-of-the-days. They are the modern-day celebrity, in a very sweet and "normal" disguise. There are so many campaigns out right now defending young girls and women from comparing themselves to models in magazines. Where are the same standards about comparing ourselves to lifestyle bloggers that are packed with sponsorships? These are lovely women who are making their careers work for them, but emulating their public personas is not the answer to originality or happiness. Not even for themselves! I feel fake when each photo we upload is carefully arranged, slapped onto Instagram, and tagged. There's a time and place for this, but I fear an oversimplification is becoming reality, and cheapening what life really offers.

A lot of the most interesting women in my life are not avid users of social media. They don't know how to use Twitter, or ignore Facebook, calling it "boring." These women support orphanages in the slums of India, or play in orchestras in Scandinavia, or create beautiful works of quilted art, or have wonderfully messy, happy lives right here in Seattle. When we get together we talk about everything: classic literature, science, politics, religion, sappy beach reads, crafts, our families, exercise, food, etc. Our tables are never pretty or photogenic when we're finished, with torn open sugar packets, dirty coffee spoons, and bags of sliced fruit in Ziploc bags that I bring to every meeting so I won't be tempted to eat bagels with cream cheese. We forget to take photos until everything is eaten and drunk, and at that point, our conversation seems too sacred to be shared with the world.

There's nothing wrong with styled photos and beautiful blog posts--in fact, we love them, it's part of what we love the most about our jobs. These pictures of perfection inspire us to make our world more beautiful, and see light in simple joys. These only become wrong when our identity or the identity of others is hinged on public likeability. Let's try to remember to be liked by the people we like, be loved by the people we love, including the whole unphotographable mess that goes along with us.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Assemble on Great.ly!

 Great.ly, the brain-child of our dear friend, Sarah Bryden-Brown (formerly of Go Mighty) is a place where "tastemakers" and "makers" come together. (Which one are you??) And, if you had the pleasure of reading Danielle Krysa's interview, you already know this wonderful, little gem's creative director!


Great.ly collects some of your favorite tastemakers like Uppercase, Oh Happy Day and Design Milk in one online space, and displays brand new lovingly-curated online shops, utilizing handmade goods and designs by independent makers. We are so proud to be makers in this fabulous creative marketplace! Make sure to pop over to Great.ly and check out all of the great shops, and freshen up for summer!


Photos courtesy of Great.ly

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Favorite Friend: Danielle Krysa aka The Jealous Curator

We have to admit that Danielle Krysa (aka The Jealous Curator) is not just one of our favorite friends--but one of our favorite people. We have gabbed about her in the past, both for her Girl Crush event that we helped host and her first art show in our gallery, alleglory. However, now she's throwing even more awesomeness our way, as her first book, Creative Block has hit shelves and she's packed her suitcase and headed for Seattle and Portland this week!

This coming Saturday, May 24th, Danielle will be speaking, fielding questions and having a book signing for Creative Block at Elliott Bay Book Company from 7-9pm. We'll be there--will you??

PLUS--If you're a Portland reader, your event is a bit earlier--with Danielle hitting Powell's Books on May 21st (that's tomorrow!) at 7pm. You won't want to miss her!


We were so excited to host Girl Crush: Seattle with you a while back--how did the series change you? Did you have a favorite moment throughout all of the events--other than hanging out with us, obviously!?
HA! Well, yes, clearly that was the best part! It really was an amazing experience. I met so many exceptional women who I can now happily call my friends. And yes, it did change me. I didn't realize how emotional those workshops would be. Amazing to find out that so many of us share so many experiences... self doubt being a really big one!

We're big fans of your series, "Real Art for a Fictitious World," on SF Girl By Bay --are there any lesser known characters that are special to you that you'd like to curate for that probably won't end up on the blog?  
Oh thanks! I absolutely love writing that series. I really want to hit all my teenage faves (Sixteen Candles, Dirty Dancing, Footloose) but I'm afraid it will date me, and also make me look like I don't have fancy taste in "films" ... because I don't!

When we first met, you were only just starting to delve deeper into your own art career--what have you learned about yourself as an artist?  
So much. Writing my blog, and then the book, was like art therapy for me! I actually allow myself to experiment now, and if something sucks, that's ok. I've realized that's just part of the process. I used to let that stop me, but now I just keep on going. I've also just had a major revelation... I was told a few weeks before I graduated with my BFA, by a horrible prof, that I should "never paint again." I was a painting major. And thinking about it, I literally have not painted since then (that was in 1995!!!). I do collage now (which I love), but I kinda wonder if I've been hiding out in collage so that I don't have to paint. So I'm buying new paint, and I'm going to do a bunch of the painting "unblocking projects" from the book and see how it goes...wish me luck!


When and where is the most inspiring time/place for you to create?  
I love my studio. It's in my house, for the first time in my life. It's messy and creative and lovely. I'm not very creative until about 4pm, but then I could go until about 4am!

Your book, Creative Block, has come out and is a smashing success! How did you feel when you received your first published copy? 
 I cried. And felt a tiny bit sick. It was insane to hold it, considering that for the past two years it was just a word doc and whole bunch of spreadsheets. Seeing "KRYSA" down the spine was a totally surreal moment that I will never have again.


What was your mission when writing Creative Block?  
I had a really hard time after my BFA (see previous answer re: jerky prof who kinda broke me), and then felt blocked and insecure for about 15 years. 15 YEARS?! What a huge waste of time. Anyway, I just thought if I could help one person not go through that, then the book would be a success. I had no idea how ridiculously open and honest all of the artists would be in their interviews. They truly made this book special by sharing their doubts, insecurities, and then amazingly helpful advice. I am totally grateful to all 50 of them.

Any inspiring or fun stories that have happened along the writing, publishing and touring path?  
Well this was kinda weird. One of the artists, Kristi Malakoff, is a paper artist based in Russia. I knew she was Canadian, but that was about it. Anyway, we went back and forth with the interview, getting her images etc.--probably about a 6 month process. Just before the book came out I sent an email to the artists to give them a status update and mentioned the name of my friend that took my bio photo for the inside cover... she knew him too. Long story short we ended up figuring out that we had grown up one town away from each other, and that we had actually been in a dance routine together when we were 12. She had the photo with her in Russia and was looking at us, in matching pink spandex, as she emailed me. Um, hello insanely small world!

If you were stranded on a magical, monotonous desert island and could have only one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Do potato chips count as a meal? If I add dill pickle dip, then I'm pretty sure that counts.

If you could choose any celebrity to proudly display one of your art pieces in their home, who would it be?  
Oh boy. Hm. Probably Kristen Wiig or Tina Fey. I love both of them so much, and since my collages are kinda weird/funny, maybe they'd like 'em!

What is your favorite color? ...Why?
I love rosey/coral pink. It's adds joy to any piece you make. 

Images courtesy Danielle Krysa

Thursday, April 3, 2014

New Stockist: Assembly Hall

Hey gang! We're excited to share a new stockist with you--plus, they're right here in Seattle! Assemble Crafting Kits and Rubber Stamp Sets can now be found in James Beard Award winners, Tom Douglas and Eric Tanaka's new foodie paradise: Assembly Hall. Combining one part juice and coffee bar, one part curiosity shop, one part American/Asian cuisine at TanakaSan, plus a few sundries and charcuterie, Assembly Hall is a hodgepodge of culinary and visual delights. We were honored to see that we are in good shopping company, with cookbooks, vintage-looking adventure books and magazines like Kinfolk and Modern Farmer. Plus, check out that giant bull elk by the fireplace. Mmmm tasty (sorry vegetarians).







To visit Assembly Hall:
2121 6th Ave Seattle, Washington
assemblyhallseattle.com



Friday, March 28, 2014

Favorite Friend Friday: Mickey Trescott of Autoimmune Paleo

Mickey Trescott is a personal hero of mine. Having suffered from severe dermographism and urticaria (autoimmune reactions) for nearly 25 years, I started a blog called The Itch Factor, which was about my journey with discovering the connection between food, my gut and my skin allergies to health. Mickey happened to stumble upon The Itch Factor and offer her recipes to help in my journey! Because of business and time-related constraints, I retired that blog and focused on Mickey's blog and ebook: Autoimmune Paleo

Since starting the protocol, with Mickey's help, I have been able to reduce my medications from six allergy pills a day to ONE. Talk about a medical miracle, it honestly brings me to tears! And recently, Mickey released her brand, new hardcover cookbook, The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook and I could not be more excited. We're delighted to have her here, as our Favorite Friend:


 What exactly is the Autoimmune Protocol?
The Autoimmune Protocol is an elimination diet where a person removes certain foods for a specified time period (usually at least 30 days), in order to pinpoint which foods they are sensitive to in addition to heal the lining of the small intestine, which is usually compromised in those with autoimmune disease (this is called “leaky gut”). In addition to removing certain foods, equally as important is adding in nutrient-dense foods that help heal the gut as well as nourish the body of someone facing chronic illness. Over time, a person is able to reintroduce foods to determine what diet is best for their particular healing journey.

What is your story--how did you come into following the Autoimmune Protocol?
I discovered the Autoimmune Protocol after being diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases: Hashimoto’s and Celiac. I was told that if I just removed gluten from my diet and took some thyroid hormone I would be back on my feet again, but that was not the case. I had a downward spiral that left me without the ability to work any longer, and I was desperate to find a solution. While I had been a strict Vegan for 10 years, even going as far to try cleanses and raw food diets, this time nothing was working to help me regain my health. I decided to switch to the autoimmune protocol in a last-ditch effort. To my surprise I found out that the nutrient deficiencies that I had gathered during my time as a Vegan were really holding me back from healing (and yes I tried supplements—they did not work!). Nothing seemed to turn it around until I discovered the potential of real, nourishing foods.


The cookbook is absolutely gorgeous--and self published! What was the experience of writing/self-publishing like?
Thank you! Writing was what I thought it would be, self-publishing was a whole different experience. I had a hard time finding a publisher who believed in my vision for the book, and early on I decided to do it myself so that I could retain control over the process. I think the big difference between working with a publisher and self-publishing is that it takes a LOT of money up front, and you get that final call working with the contractors when usually the publisher would do that for you (I’m a little OCD, so I liked this, what can I say?). What I did to make the financial piece happen was start a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo to help with production costs. In addition to that, my husband and I invested most of our savings in the first print run. Sometimes it was a little scary, but mostly it was really exciting. I was incredibly blessed to have worked with such amazing people who were experienced in how to put it all together and let me ask novice questions without making me feel ridiculous!

I see you recently became certified as an NTP (Nutritional Therapy Practitioner), has that always been a goal or did it come along with the creation of this cookbook?
When I came out of my illness and realized what an impact eating quality animal products was having on my health, I decided to pursue more education in the nutrition field just because I was still stuck in the Vegan mindset and didn’t understand how these foods could be good for me, so it was mostly personal. Then I thought it would be a good addition to my career as a personal chef, and decided I wanted to not just to cook for people, but learn why the foods I was cooking for them were able to nourish their bodies. Being an NTP has been a great foundation for all of the things I am doing now—writing, cooking, teaching, and consulting.


 Is this your only job--do you have a "day job" of sorts?
I quit my cooking gig last September to work on the book and blog full-time, so yes, this is my “day job!” I also have a lot of help—there is no way I could be running all of this alone at this point!

You seem to be bombarded with nutrition questions, especially on Facebook. Do you have any especially poignant stories of people who you've been able to help along the way?
Yes, my favorite story is about a dear friend’s mother. I had no idea she was suffering from autoimmunity, and one day I noticed her interacting with people on my Facebook page. I reached out to her to ask how she was doing and if she wanted any help, and she casually mentioned that she had lost nearly 50 pounds and was feeling amazing. Not only that, but she was really enjoying eating “real food” and thought her diet was really simple, colorful and fun. I had no idea she was even trying AIP, and It brought me to tears realizing that I had a role in helping my friend’s mom regain her health through the info and support I was providing. Pretty amazing!

What is your favorite recipe in the book?
The Orange-Rosemary Roasted Duck!


What is the one non-AIP food that you miss the most?
Cherry tomatoes fresh from my garden. I’m hoping I can bring them back someday!

What is your favorite restaurant in Seattle--and what do you order?
I don’t eat out much in Seattle since there aren’t a lot of places with gluten-free kitchens. When in Portland, I always visit the Cultured Caveman Food Cart, which is 100% gluten-free and Paleo. Since I tolerate eggs now I get the chicken tenders, but when I was on the elimination diet I got the mini “hidden liver” meat loves. Yum!

What do you like to do in your free time?
I don’t have much, but when I do I like to knit, shoot photos with my film camera, and make pottery.

If you could travel to any country, where would you go and why?
Argentina! I am hoping to do a big road trip down to Tierra Del Fuego and up through Patagonia. I grew up going there because my mom is from Buenos Aires. I think it would be a great place to visit since I have lots of family to catch up with, and there is a lot of great meat in Argentina!

Do you have future plans/goals for the Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook and site?
Now that the book is done I am working on building up the site as a better resource for those on the Autoimmune Protocol. I love providing my readers with free recipes and resources of how to get started. I’ll also be doing more speaking and teaching, to hopefully bring some face-to-face instruction to those who like learning that way instead of reading online!

Thank you so much, Mickey! Visit the Autoimmune Paleo website, or grab your copy of Mickey's new cookbook, here

Photos courtesy Autoimmune Paleo.

Blogging tips