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Busytown Fabric!

Richard Scarry gets a lot of snuggle-up-with-a-book time in our house. Now, what to make with this new yardage due out in October?


Busytown Fabric from Quilting Treasures.

Judging Wines by Their Labels

According to Matthew Latkiewicz at Grub Street, I like my wine French, Letterpress or Pottery Barn Catalogue.

He says, “I have gone into the field and done some research. I wanted to know whether I could identify the types of labels I liked and which turned me off. I think I have identified seven major wine-label groupings along with several subclasses. I also tasted a bunch of wines according to their labels and have made wildly ill-advised extrapolations about what the label means for your drinking experience.”

The Wheel of Wine Labels

 

Sloshed: Maybe We Should Be Judging Wines by Their Labels — Grub Street New York.

Are You Into Graphic Novels?

nathan sorry

Because I’ve just finished reading the story-so-far of Nathan Sorry, a nebbishy junior Wall Street paper-pusher whose plans go awry on September 10, 2001. Author and illustrator Rich Barrett evokes the tense, nihilistic mood of that fall while revealing the story of a displaced man hiding out under an assumed identity. Five chapters are available online, and new pages are posted every couple of weeks.

You can read Nathan Sorry online, or purchase the first volume in a trade paperback.

Full disclosure: Mr. Barrett may or may not be the Creative Director at the firm where I may or may not have been (and remain somewhat) employed. This should not have any effect on your thorough enjoyment of his fine work. I just read all 83 pages in one sitting.

A Brief Word on Japan Relief

You have any number of ways to contribute to relief efforts in Japan, and in no way do I want to discourage you from sending some cold hard cash to The American Red Cross or the well-rated, legitimate organization of your choice. But I do want to direct you to some of the interesting ways that crafters and artists are raising money to be sent to Japan.

Quilts for Quake Survivors is a group in Portland that is both sewing log cabin quilts and distributing fabric to be sewn into warm quilts. These quilts will either be sold, with the proceeds sent to appropriate organizations supporting the efforts in Japan, or sent directly to survivors. You can send fabric, pieced blocks or cash donations, or you can organize a quilting bee in your area.

Handmade for Japan is an online auction of items by accomplished artists that starts tonight and runs through Sunday night.

Of course, people on Etsy are donating part or all of the proceeds of various items to Japan relief. In addition to fabric for the quilters and some cash of my own, I plan to donate the purchases of this striped wool hat and my Very Manly coffee sleeves. (Now would be a good time to stock up on presents!)

Adventures in Upholstery (Then and Now)

When I was about 23, I I discovered a discarded loveseat in front of the apartment building where I lived in Minneapolis. Snow was just starting to fall, and I knew that if I wanted to rescue the sweet little sofa I had to do so right away. (This was before we had to worry about bedbugs.) I ran inside and called a couple of friends, but no one was around. (This was before had phones in our pockets.) So I somehow managed to push/shove/lug the sofa around the building, in the service entrance, up a flight of stairs and into my apartment. Which, by the way, was the one right behind the tree to the left, on the first floor. It had French windows then, and the trim was painted green.

marcelle arms

 

I loved that apartment. But that’s another post.

I spent that snowy night tearing the damp tweedy fabric from the loveseat’s frame with a pair of needlenose pliers. The next day I bought a staple gun and a few yards of navy jacquard upholstery fabric. And somehow, using a potent combination of 20% skill, 20% proper and improper tools (including but not limited to a needle and thread, the staple gun and a glue gun) and 60% sheer determination, I turned that frame into a pretty decent little sofa. To this day I can’t listen to A Prairie Home Companion without hearing faint echoes of the thunk thunk thunk of the stapler.

I wish I had read Manhattan Nest first. Because this guy did something similar, and far better. He recovered an IKEA bed frame with cotton batting and an Army blanket. And he was smart enough to buy the automatic stapler.

 

A Bit of Seussian Digression

I’m a bit late on this – Dr. Seuss’s birthday was on March 2 – but two links worth sharing have crossed my path today:

From Mental Floss, 10 Stories Behind Dr. Seuss Stories, in which we learn more about Mr. Geisel’s political views and the degree to which some of his books are allegories.

And from Buzzfeed, What Dr. Seuss Books Were Really About, which spells out those allegories via cover art, such as this:

A Friend in Need…

One way in which the Internet is truly incredible is the ability of a random group of strangers to help someone in need. The Juniper Moon Farm blog recently made me aware of the disaster that befell Pete’s Greens, an organic farm and CSA in Vermont that recently suffered a devastating fire. The barn and all of the processing equipment were destroyed, along with a quarter of a million dollars in crops and meats, and a partially-built addition to the barn.

Susie of Juniper Moon had never heard of Pete’s Greens until a subscriber told her about the fire, but she knows that her readers are a kind lot who can be called upon every so often. So she set up a fundraiser where people can donate to Pete’s Greens via Amazon payments. And she may have offered a few incentives, including her own yarn stash, to encourage people to donate.

In the past several days, not only has over $5,000 been raised, but over 50 people have offered additional prizes, ranging from yarn and handknits to paintings and photographs.

So, if the spirit moves you, read the farm’s story and send a few dollars their way. You might even win this infant-sized tomato hat, handknit by me!

tomato hat

A Friend in Need… UPDATED with lots more Prizes! : Juniper Moon Farm.

A Better Way to Caramelize Onions

The title says it all. Read on for the easiest way ever to improve your cooking.

The Food Lab: A Better Way to Caramelize Onions (Plus, French Onion Dip!) | Serious Eats, via not martha

Giveaway Day, Revisited

Remember Giveaway Day? I was so pleased to send a handmade needle book and a pack of charm squares to a lovely woman in Wisconsin.

luxe yarn

And as luck would have it, I won a giveaway myself! Inspired Mama, who also has a Etsy shop, sent me a gorgeous skein of beautiful hand-dyed wool and silk yarn in deep reds and purples. It arrived last night in a perfectly wrapped package along with two charming fabric buttons that I forgot to photograph. She was also kind enough to send a coupon code to share with you, so if you’d like your own Inspired Mama yarn, you can enjoy 10% off any yarn subscription (that’s one or two skeins a month for three months) by using code NEWYEAR2011. The code is good through February 1. Knitters take note: this is lovely yarn. Thanks, Inspired Mama!

edited to add: here are the buttons!

buttons

Weird Etsy Find: My Pincushions?

pincushion

My potted pincushions have been described as charming, lovely, unusual and just plain cute. But Etsy user jarabas has deemed them strange, in her treasury of strange items. I’m totally flattered, but in my book a round pincushion isn’t half as strange as a needle felted eye or a subcutaneous magnoliopsida.

Strange As It Ever Was by jarabas on Etsy.

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