Friday, May 30, 2008

The Grace Kelley Story

My big brother Owen is the family storyteller... And he sent along this wonderful story a little while ago - and I just had to share it.

So, without further ado, here is The Grace Kelley Story as told by my brother Owen (isn't Owen a great Irish name? I was dying to use it, but, yaknow, already taken and stuff, so the little man got a different Irish name instead, to go with my hubby's Puerto Rican last name.)


On March 30 I met my friend Kevin Rich for a day of ice fishing at Tully Dam in Athol. ( Well; the dead end road where we park to get onto the reservoir is in Athol.) Kevin had some errands to run before meeting me so I had some time to wait for him. After waiting only a couple of minutes I heard a truck approach.

I thought it was too soon to be Kevin, I was correct. A young man pulled up in his truck. He got out of his truck with "Grace" in his hands. He informed me that he was abandoning her. I asked him why he wasn't bringing the kitten to a shelter. He didn't answer.. He jumped into his truck and sped away. ( I should have noted his plate number but did not.) I was sitting on the tailgate of my truck and "Grace" ran right over to me and jumped onto my lap.

A few minutes passed and Kevin showed up. He got out of his truck and asked what my new friends name was. ( Grace is completely gray.) I said she must be named "Smokey" and told him the story of how I had just met her. As we were offloading gear and firewood from my truck I dropped a piece of firewood onto "Smokey's" tail. She let out a screech and ran up a nearby pine tree.

We went fishing for the day. When we came up the hill at the end of the day Kevin must have seen me looking for the kitten. He called out "Here kitty, kitty" a number of times. I said Kev, I already have a cat at home, I don't need another one. We packed up the trucks and headed home. I was looking for "Smokey" as I drove up the dirt road. There are houses just a short way up from the dead end. I thought hopefully that she would find a home at one of the houses on the road.

Norma [Norma is Owen's wife] puts our cat Smokey out each morning on his rope in the front yard. The next morning was a rainy Monday. Norma called to me that Smokey was hissing at a small gray kitten in the front yard. I immediately thought "it can't be"; it was.

"Smokey" from the reservoir had crawled into the underside of my truck and stowed away. This kitten rode for approximately 40 miles under my truck as I drove down route 2. Needless to say; "Smokey" was brought into the house and placed in a cat carrier cage.

I thought about bringing her to the Sterling animal shelter. I slept on it for the night. When I woke the next morning I informed the family that we had a new member of the family. Her name is Grace; for only by the grace of God is she in our lives. I have never thought of myself as a cat person. I do now. When I go to bed at night Grace comes along and sleeps by my feet.

It is a remarkable story; one that I share with all who meet Grace.

Isn't that great? Route 2 is a pretty major road that runs across Massachusetts - not a ton of traffic out in this area, but everybody moves right along at 65+ m.p.h. That cat really was meant to belong to Owen, I think!

Wow, I'm pretty lame, this is the only picture I found that included a shot of Owen (apart from our wedding photos, but those aren't in electronic form...) That's him, in the grey sweater in the middle of the doorway, facing away from the camera, talking to two of his children. Norma is the lovely lady in the purple shirt sitting in front of him. That's my oldest brother, Mark, in the plaid shirt on the left.

This is from Christmas at my Mum's (she's in the front of the picture, sitting, in the red sweater, in profile) house several years ago - it's always a complete madhouse, with over 20 people packed into not a lot of space (I have four older brothers, 6 nieces, three nephews, a great-niece and two great-nephews [with more in the works, lol, my oldest nieces are closer in age to me than most of my brothers, I was a real tail-ender], it's a big family when we all get together and spouses/significant others all come along...).

I'm going to have to do a better job of taking pictures of everybody next time we're all together!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wednesday Artist Profile - Gock's Frocks

We were walking back from the library a little while ago and I realized that I hadn't done my Wednesday artist profile yet - oops! At the same time I was thinking about how nice Ms. B looked in one of her new summer outfits, and thought - oooh, kids clothes, that's fun!

Which led me to thinking of the absolutely delightful Kristen of Gock's Frocks. (Even if she is a Yankees fan, lol...) I love the clothes she makes! For example...

Check out that beautiful skirt! Made with gorgeous Moda fabric - I love those colors (perfect for red-headed Ms. B! Hmmmm.....) And, as an add-on, she can make you a custom shirt to go with the skirt:

Great outfit. (And absolutely darling model!)

How about a three piece outfit?

I love the detail! The ruffles on the pants, the coordinating kerchief, it's fantastic.

OK, one more item. Something for my little walking man:

So adorable!!

One last thing - if you would like to check out her wares in person and you live in the New York area, visit Vida's Market on May 31! It runs from 10 am - 7 pm and is at Wallace Hall in Saint Ignatius Loyola Church at 980 Park Ave. (between 83 and 84th Streets) in New York City. For more information about the Vida's Market, visit its website. And to learn a little more about Kristen, visit her blog!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

About Time!

Hooray, the Little Man is walking! (He's 16 1/2 months at this point, so he's a bit late - his big sister walked at 15 months just about on the nose, also on the late side - they're both quite large, I guess large kids tend to walk a little later, according to their doctor, who wasn't particularly worried - I love their doctor, he actually *listens* to me, amazing, he's great.)

Want to see some pictures? :)

There he goes! Too funny, they're so cute when they're first figuring it out. I guess he was just finally ready - he's been pushing one of his trucks around a lot lately, and Sunday was just the day! (Shaggy grass in the back yard.)

He's feeling *so* much bigger lately (I swear they grow overnight), but he's still pretty darn little next to our Big Papi...

Somebody likes the camera.

He's been walking all over the place since Sunday - backing up, turning around, going around things, squatting down and picking stuff up... Ginga (my Mum) called it - he waited a while to get around to it, but now he's a pro, with very minimal wipe-outs.

Hope everyone had a nice long weekend!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Front Page - Thanks to the Storque!

So, for those of you who aren't Etsy-people (Etsiers? Etsians? Etsites? Something like that...), a little explanation is in order. The Storque is Etsy's online Newletter for sellers, buyers, browsers, anyone who just wants to keep up a little bit with the goings-on in the Etsy World.

They have a series of Spotlight articles - including the recent Gift Ideas: Teacher Teacher. And my lemongrass green tencel lace scarf is one of the featured gift ideas! Neato! Always tickled to be noticed by the PTBs (PTBs = Powers That Be for you non-Buffy fans out there).

And to make it even more neato, it made the front page! Let's see if I can manage to get my screencap here for you (saved it in a little different way this time, so we'll see...)

Itty bitty. LOL. But there it is! :) It's this scarf/sash, in case you're interested:

It's the sister to the green lace scarf that sold in about two seconds flat. (It's cousin, a similar one but in solid adobe also set a speed record - for me - for selling!) And it's also part of the series that I developed based on my design that was published in Handwoven.

Hmm. Maybe this is the figurative kick in the rear that will get me going/motivated again. It's getting really hard to make myself go in to the studio on weekends, which are usually my productive time! And this is theoretically the time of year when I should be stocking up for fall... Not happening so far, but that's ok, it's nice to be selling still when I thought I'd be well into my summer slowdown by now.

Anybody else have motivation problems when the weather gets nice?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wednesday Artist Profile - Amanda Sainsbury

Finally, another profile! I've been having severe motivation problems now that the weather has gotten nicer... Even finding it hard to get my rear over to my studio. (Not good! This is when I should be building up inventory!)

I've seen Amanda Sainsbury's work around Etsy a bit lately - she has a really strong design sense, in my opinion, and her work catches my eye every time.

5 Small Knitted Buttons. Aren't they neat? And aren't her colors great? (Maybe that's why I like her work so much, I love her color sense.)

She makes trim in all sorts of lovely colors, too!

Or how about a selection of knitted beads? In purples, too - purple is sooo the color this year. :)

She also makes fabric that you could use to make something fantastic... (She has some Orange Circles fabric that just really appeals to me. Go check it out.)

OK, one last photo of some of her yummy Spring Knitted Buttons...

Lovely shop. And outstanding photos, don't you think? I've been noticing that the overall quality of photos on Etsy seems to be improving... Or maybe there are just enough experienced sellers now that the folks that wind up on the front page are just all doing a stellar job with their photography. It's great to see!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wednesday Artist Profile - KMR Handwoven

After last Wednesday's lapse (sorry!), I thought I'd profile a handweaver as a special treat. The fantabulous Kathie of KMR Handwoven really caught my eye when she joined EtsyFAST (the Fiber Arts Street Team).

Isn't this towel great?? I love a weaver with a sense of humor! And she did a great job photographing it, too - that yellow pepper is a very nice touch - as we all know, decent photography for an Etsy shop is not only crucially important, it can also be pretty darn difficult.

More goodies...

She has several handwoven check book cases and coin purses in her shop. See what I mean about that good photography? More great pictures. And, since I'm terrible about sewing with my handwoven fabric, I have great admiration for those who do!

Tote bags too!

While chatting with Kathie, I found out all sorts of interesting things about her weaving. For instance, she weaves on a drawloom. I've never seen one in person, but she got me all interested in them and I've been doing research (even found a place near here where I could take a little workshop on one, how fun). Here's a picture she sent me of her drawloom:

Hmm. Kind of small, but you get the idea - it's a beast, isn't it?? It has two sets of harnesses - one set for structure and one set for a pattern - and with a drawloom you can weave any sort of pattern that you can draft on graph paper...

Can you see the detail in that photo? These are some baby bibs that she wove on her drawloom - adorable or what?? She needs to get these in her Etsy shop, pronto. :) Boy, though, does the idea of a drawloom appeal to me...

A couple of notes for the weavers that may be reading this - if you are going to Convergence in Tampa this June (I am! I can't wait!), you can see some of Kathie's wall pieces in the Weave and Resist Exhibit at Hillsborough Community College in Ybor City, Tampa. (How cool is that??)

And she is also in Catherine Ellis' book, Woven Shibori. Her piece is on p.86 - and, once again, it was woven on her draw loom before she did a shibori discharge. It is *gorgeous*.

I'm not always a huge fan of woven shibori (sorry, folks, but in my opinion, I think people can make some very muddy-looking pieces using this technique - though I must say I really like Catherine Ellis' work, not muddy at all), but Kathie's piece is beautiful. I'm looking forward to seeing her work in the exhibit at Convergence!

And, just on a personal note, I have had a fabulous time chatting with Kathie over email. She's just one of those lovely people that you would love to live closer to... (I've met quite a few of people like this through EtsyFAST - maybe it's something about working with fiber.)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Follow- Up On the Time Question - and a Teaching Question

First of all, a big apology to anyone who was looking for my Wednesday artist profile this past week and missing it... I was just swamped (and, let's admit it, completely lame). But, for a special treat, I'm planning to profile a weaver this coming Wednesday!

She is lucky enough to live near here!

So, folks, thanks so much to everyone who commented on the previous post. I took all of your advice to heart, as well as some wonderful advice from the EtsyFAST folks, too - and put it to good use at yesterday's Open Studios at Western Avenue Studios.

First of all, despite kind of a record low turn-out (it was kind of a yucky day here yesterday, it didn't surprise me that not a lot of people showed up) - I sold four pieces! I was tickled!

So, this scarf, among others, has a new home. (Always had a soft spot for this one - I wear it's twin sister that has a threading error in it - I took the colors from a painting that my daughter made.)

Secondly, I think I came up with a way that works for me to answer the dreaded "time" question. First, I changed my attitude and decided to attribute the question just to curiosity. Especially since during Open Studios my loom is right there, often with work in progress on it, of course people want to hear about the process. So, I spend a lot of time giving a quick run-down of the warping process and how a loom works to folks - it's really wonderful to see how interested people are!

And, when they ask the time question, I usually give a bit longer answer, based on some of the replies I got here, actually! Something like: "Well, I've been weaving pretty steadily for seven years now (funny how as a weaver that makes me a neophyte, but non-weavers think that's a long time, lol), when I first started it probably took me about 3X, though I didn't time myself then. Even a year or so ago, it took me about 2X. I've gotten really efficient in the past year and a half since I've started selling, though, and have my time down to X. Unless I make mistakes that need fixing..." (I'm a typical NorthEastern Yankee fast talker, so that goes by faster than it looks.)

OK, if you've made it this far - I have another question for you! Do you have people ask about you giving lessons? I'm amazed at how many people ask me if I teach when they come through during Open Studios.

I'm thinking that for the big Lowell-city-wide Artists Open Studios in late September that I'm going to bring my little four-shaft loom over, too, and set it up with a sample warp and let people have at it. We get a lot of kids through, too, and I think they might get a kick out of that...

I would love to teach someday, but at the moment, at least, I barely have enough time to weave! Maybe when both munchkins are old enough to be in school.

Any teachers out there? Do you give private lessons, one-on-one, or do you teach groups? I imagine it's a lot of work, but also really rewarding.

Anybody who happened to read my Endnotes column in Handwoven will probably realize that Rita Steinbach, my teacher at the Worcester Center for Crafts, was just crucial in giving me that push that I needed to move into designing my own work. (Thank you, Rita!!) Anywho, I would love to hear about your experiences!