Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Embroidered Storybooks with Jessie Chorley

I've been in an embroidery mood lately. I wanted to make some days of the week tea towels, but I didn't want the usual kitchen / household motifs on them, so I started to go with a Paris theme, but they looked boring and Paris is not boring, so I scratched that idea. Then I went to Anthropologie to look at their tea towels because I always love their embroidered tea towels. I got some good ideas there and made a few tea towels (maybe I'll post pictures of those soon), and I've been on an embroidery roll since. I've mostly been looking through embroidery books, like Alicia Paulson's Embroidery Companion, A Rainbow of Stitches, and Doodle Stitching, and seeing what I can find online. One of the most inspiring embroidery artists is Jessie Chorley. You might remember her work from my post on her shop. Her style to me is dreamy and whimsical and magical. So while I was stitching away at one of my tea towels, I thought of her work and thought I'd see if she had any upcoming workshops (I had read a while back that she hosted workshops) and lucky me, she was having a storybook workshop. It was wonderful. She showed us some of her storybooks, talked to us about gathering ideas for a theme, ideas for constructing the books, and showed us some of her stitching techniques. She set up the table in the middle of the shop and we were stitching away in no time, and sipping tea and nibbling cake of course. Here are some pictures from the dreamy afternoon. These first 4 images, including the top image, are examples of Jessie's work. (Also, it wasn't really this dark in the shop, that's just the way I processed these photos.)
Our beautifully messy table, tea and cake included. I love craft mess.
I decided on an Amsterdam theme for my storybook. I'll post more pictures when I have more done.
What the other women were working on...
And what Jessie worked on while we were there...
I hope I can take another one of her workshops with my mom one day. She will love it! If you're in London, here's her workshop information. Happy stitching.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Postcards from Amsterdam

We're back from Amsterdam and had a great time. I loved that city. The people were friendly, the city was easy to navigate, and well, it just has so many things I like--charming little streets, great shops, creative people, beautiful architecture, and it really just felt like a big cozy neighborhood, the kind where you could pull up a chair and have a nice chat with anyone. Here are a few pictures from our Amsterdam weekend getaway. We started our first day with a Dutch pancake from Pancakes!, which Pia Jane Bijkerk mentioned in her book. 
Then I hunted down a few shops in the book, and found quite a few great other shops as well. 
On Saturday we went to the Noordermarkt and found some great things, including this bag on the right made by Anne Van Dijk made from recycled army surplus supplies and men's suits (one of the things I especially liked in the Amsterdam: Made by hand book were her bags, which at 27 euros, are very reasonably priced, I think). 
We mainly spent our time in two areas, the 9 Streets and the Jordaan. Those two areas alone could have kept us busy for days. And those parts of the city are just so charming. Little narrow street after little narrow street, canal after canal. 
We stayed on a houseboat, which was really fun. The houseboat studio we stayed in was adorable but has suffered a bit of wear and tear and could use some TLC. It was still a really nice way to stay in Amsterdam, and it was in a great area for getting out and seeing the city. 
Lois liked to watch the boats and ducks go by. 
We liked checking out the other houseboats along the canals. 
I loved seeing the sheets on the line of this houseboat. So homey with the sheets and the potted garden. 
We also went to a few museums. The Rijksmusem pictured below. Museum of Dutch masters like Vermeer and Rembrandt. They also had a really great exhibit of doll houses--not the kind little girls play with, but serious, and expensive replica's of one's actual house. Check it out here. 
We bought Lois a new umbrella at a fun place called Kitsch Kitchen. She loves it. 
The weather was chilly and a bit grey the last two days, but it still looked beautiful. I really love the roofline of the canal houses. 
People love their bikes in Amsterdam. Soooo many bikes. I have never seen so many bikes. 
And sometimes entire families can be seen cruising on one bike, like this one in the center with 3 child seats on it. Wow. That would make me nervous! 
We also loved looking into peoples houses. It seemed like most people either didn't have window treatments or their window treatments were open. Both of these places below were split level, where behind the dining area was a floor above and one below, both of which you could see through to the other side. I wish you could see better. The houses were so pretty inside. 
This house below was really pretty too. It had a spiral staircase that went all 4 floors, which you could see through the windows. 
And of course we had to have Dutch apple pie. It was soooo good. Our trip was short but sweet, and I'd love to go back one day and explore the city some more. Amsterdam is now one of my favorite places I've been.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Amsterdam: Made by Hand

Greetings from Amsterdam! I've been looking forward to this weekend getaway trip for a while now in large part because I love the book Amsterdam: Made by Hand. It's always great to have a friend to give you the inside scoop to a city--to tell you the shops you'll like, neighborhoods, nice places to have a snack or just wander, and the second best to having that is finding a book that does just that. That's how I feel about Amsterdam: Made by Hand. Here's a peek into the book. If you plan to go to Amsterdam, and love handmade, vintage, or otherwise unique things, you'll love this book. The photos alone to me are worth the book. Photos from the book are all by the author, Pia Jane Bijkerk. More pictures from Amsterdam coming soon. It's been a wonderful first day!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Print Workshop at Urban Outfitters

My friend Chris from San Francisco will be in town soon promoting her book, Print Workshop, at the Spitalfields Urban Outiftters. Chris will be signing books and demonstrating some of the great at-home printing techniques featured in the book. I'll be there too, so if you're in London, mark your calendar for Thursday, May 19 at 1PM. Chris is awesome and so is her book, so don't miss it!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Swarm at Anthropologie

We're headed to Amsterdam soon, and one place I'd love to visit while we're there is Leslie Oschmann's studio, Swarm. It's by appointment only, so I don't know that I'll be able go, but I did recently stop by Anthropologie on King's Road here in London to see her current exhibit there. Having worked for Anthropologie for 8 years, and leaving as the visual director, of course her creations fit right in in their gallery space. I love the way she finds so many ways to rework old canvases, from her bags, to the great collage in mismatched frames (above), to her new series of plates. But I think my favorite piece in the exhibit was a book-nook of a chair. Two chairs, re-worked into a chair and bookshelf all in one. Creative indeed. So if you're in London, go check out the exhibit this week (it's up until May 10).

Monday, 2 May 2011


One iPhone photo app that I love lately is Instagram. Have I mentioned it already? I can't remember! Just thought I'd tell you about it in case you have an iPhone and didn't already know of it. It's intended for easy sharing, I think, but I really like it for the filters. I usually just save the images to my camera roll rather than sharing the images via one of the sharing options like facebook. They've added a tilt shift option too, which is really nice. Here are a few pictures I took this week with Instagram using tilt shift and then another filter. If I were in the market for a basic, nice point and shoot camera, I think I'd just get an iPhone! There are so many great photo apps. You can also send someone a Postagram now, a real postcard using one of your Instagram images. For .99 you choose the image, type the postcard, add the address, and sent it on its way all via the app. I'll have to try it out.