Making Patterns

Mission accomplished: I joined hitrecord today and added one record so far: This is me!

I accepted one challenge and shared a nature picture (“Morning Dew”) and I spent the rest of the day thinking about the Patterns Book. I plan to submit a writing sample for the book – it’s in draft at the moment.

But first I imagined patterns and started sketching

Making patterns 1
Making patterns 1
Making patterns 2
Making patterns 2






Patterns 3
Patterns 3
Patterns 4
Patterns 4






Patterns 5
Patterns 5
Patterns 6
Patterns 6









Here’s the thing…patterns are a paradox.
They suggest regularity and repetition but the more they repeat
the more they express things outside “the norm.” 

A “pattern” suggests something repeatable, and yet behavioral patterns can be so unpredictable. when a human hand is applied to a pattern, you never know what might happen.

Repetition is as common as deviation.


Making Marks

When I started following textile arts bloggers I learned about something people were calling “making marks.” It sounded generic and a little dry to me at the time and separated from what I defined at that time as making “art” and maybe even “crafting.” I’ve been thinking about the concept since then, reading all the different ways my fellow makers are marking things and making marks – especially as this relates to another buzzword, “upcycling” more on this later?). In the past I think I’ve locked myself into a concept of art as only finished product, but I’m enjoying discovering all the artistic ideas that seem to arise from simply making marks in various media. One mark can lead to multiple ideas.

acorn-filled log
The logs were full of holes and lying right next to all those acorns!! (Idyllwild, CA 2015)

A couple of nights ago I had a flash about this concept of making marks, and how much it has actually dominated my creative life so far and from a pretty early age (had to go get a pen/paper and jot it down…jiminy, what we do to try to put the brain to rest at night). There’s the obvious examples, like my first embroidery, needlepoint kits and the like. But what I really started thinking about was how much I loved to iron handkerchiefs (remember those?!) when I was young. It’s especially ironic because ironing became something worthy of a picture in my college days and it is non-existent for me now, but back then Mrs. Stoddard would line up the handkerchiefs after the laundry and I couldn’t wait to press them out and make them uniform and square, then fold them up so tidy. (And they didn’t even incorporate any embroidery – he was using them for the old-fashioned purpose and didn’t have use for lacy tom-foolery.) I think this was an interesting way of making marks. Especially as it’s one of those domestic types of mark-making, that get undone and redone so many times over (e.g. making the bed each day, cleaning all those dishes over and over again, crocheting dish rags that actually turn into rags…).

typewriter with carriage return

Then I thought about how I loved to use the manual typewriter in the school library when I worked there in middle school. Perhaps I was typing up cards for the card catalog or maybe the check-out card in each book that got stamped? I can’t remember exactly, but I do remember very distinctly the feel of those keys under my fingers (you really needed to punch things, compared to now. Did I just describe myself as a dinosaur? the other dinosaurs in the room know what I’m talking about. You don’t have to identify yourselves. 🙂 and the thrill of making a mark on the page as a result of that action. Ah, the mistakes – so tricky to backtrack over and so obvious. But it didn’t matter – as long as the end marks were readable the library could roll on and it was a use-able mark. (After I found this picture I remembered the satisfaction of pushing that return wand over to get to the next line!! Who’s with me…old-timers?!) P.S. Thank the planets that we didn’t have to commit to the return feature long-term. Who can complete a thought these days one line at a time without going back to amend? That’s a lot of “Liquid Paper” – I would need a lifetime supply.

word processor
This one plugs in!

Then “word processors” appeared on the scene and I got one for a birthday or Christmas. I would sit for hours transcribing anything in print, just for the experience of typing things onto a page. Seriously. This strikes me as a little odd now…mark-making for sure, right?! That invention brought the feature that allowed you to double back and use a white-out tape to “untype/retype” any mistake you might be quick enough to have caught before you hit return. Ah me. It felt like straight up magic y’all. I couldn’t get enough.


Then high school typing class (do they even offer this anymore? I suspect not, what with all the thumb-texting going on. Kids/my daughter would probably laugh at the concept now?). SMARTEST. EDUCATIONAL. CHOICE. EVER. First of all, the mark-making opportunities with this skill became quickly infinite in this technology world (typography is so interesting! getting ahead of myself…I love this movie…). But it also helped me jump into two other cool mark-making opportunities: one was transitioning the answering service where I was working from a paper system (big wooden spinning spool in the middle of the room that held pieces of paper in cubby-holes with messages scrawled on them, to be read aloud one at a time – so the stone ages basically) to computers (my first technical documentation and training opportunity y’all!).

Subsequently, taking messages via computer taught me to type as fast as people talk, which is a useful skill in the IT business world now (plus I have some fun stories from the answering service days…one includes Oregonians lack of training at that time re: sunscreen: “My skin is really red and it hurts a lot! What’s happening to me?! Call the doctor!”). It’s almost like court transcription, without the special code language. I continue to amaze my colleagues with it today, especially in highly technical conversations where people think they’re following along…until they’re not (or the other IT illness takes over: short-term memory loss, “Wait, what did we agree to again?”). Thank goodness for recap notes.

Cross-stitching in Idyllwild
This is a Mother Goose cross-stitch blanket I began 100 years ago and *may* finish before I die. We all have dreams.










Here’s the rest of the log/acorn experience.

Lara picking acorns for the log
Working the acorns







Idylwild nature
Wild acorns placed,,,









Idyllwild forest
Idyllwild forest







Here comes the weekend – looking forward to it. I’m going to share supplies with Edna Harris in AZ this weekend. She has a cool system where you send her 30 collage items and she’ll send you a free greeting card.

Art spread going to a card-marker
Stuff I’m sending to this artist

Making Science

I have volunteered in the past for the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center here in San Diego which seems to have landed me on an amazing VIP invite list to attend some really fun events. I got to attend our most recent TEDx event for free (I helped with a semi-conductor experiment that “wow-ed” the crowd. I have video of it somewhere…no time for that now…maybe later.)

Tonight there was an apparatus made of packing tape that we could climb in, crawl through, jump on and slide down. Of course I slid down that slide, and if I were super cool I’m sure I could embed that video here. However, I’m not. So perhaps you can view it here.

This was also on my phone from this evening.

at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

I’m clueless on this one. My date and my favorite cocktail of the evening are featured in the middle of a strange organism. I suspect this happened when I handed my phone off temporarily. Details pending…







BTW – If you haven’t seen Joe Gordon-Levitt’s new collaboration site, you should check it out. I’m excited to join and play a part in some way (weekend plan!).

Inspirations and Invitations

Oh the hard-working postal folks brought me some fun things today! I was in meetings all day at work so the fun was doubled when I slogged into the house with my information-worker self and saw two exciting packages addressed to me!

One was from my mom and included some beautiful patchwork squares I’m definitely taking to PDX as part of my art stash. The card cover speaks for itself (thanks mom!!) (there’s even more inspirational stuff inside of course. snippet: “Anything that you believe you can do you have always done.” Mom Historians are amazing, am I right? ).

I decided to use a paragraph break to separate that from the fact that I used my best bartender skills to swirl those quilt patches for best camera effect (nobody knows what I’m talking about, right?…).

quilt squares and card
Inspiration and supplies from TX!







In the same load I got something from my Art and Soul Retreat friends in Portland!!

Art and Soul Retreat, Portland, OR
Art and Soul Retreat Portland, OR









(that’s a bottle of bubbles with a tiny wand attached to that huge card deck)

Art & Soul Retreat cover
The following pages hold cards for each of the classes i signed up for.








If you’re available to travel/attend I would love to see you there: Art and Soul Retreat.

Paul the Mushroom

Bringing the Pieces Together

I realized (after the fact) that on Sunday I could have taken pictures of all the things in my daughter’s dorm room that I’ve made for her over the last 2 years. Some used patterns (which doesn’t really fit my requirement for original art every day, but I have Christmas presents to make and they can’t all get done on Christmas eve!), some I improvised based on an idea I saw, and some I just made up.

So here’s some fun characters I’ve conjured up in the last two years from patterns (all hail the queens and kings of crochet pattern-makers, for they make it possible for the rest of us to make coherent gifts from time to time).

These first two patterns are by lalylala (here she is on Etsy and here’s her www site). I love her dolls and I may or may not have bought three other patterns that haven’t been made yet. They call for something called “fingering yarn” or “sock yarn” – it’s 4-ply and feels so delicate to work with. Plus her patterns cite yarns from Europe that I sometimes can’t find – so it’s a fun challenge all round.

Without further ado, here is Paul the Mushroom:
(click on each picture for a bigger version)

Paul the Mushroom with his cap

Paul the Mushroom without his cap
without hat (the hair is my design – most of her patterns are bald)










And more recently we added Rocco the Raccoon to the family.

Rocco and his mask
Rocco wears a mask so no one knows he’s a raccoon. Ssshhhh!
Rocco without his hat
Rocco has a bowl cut
Rocco's rockin' the bowl cut!
Close-up of the bowl cut (all hair my design!)










Argh! I just realized I didn’t take a pic of him without his mask…’cause it’s remove-able y’all! Too bad. I’ll ask my daughter to grab a shot for me of him in the Santa Cruz wilds going sans mask. (Extra info: I made additional masks for him but didn’t have time to attach the strings. There’s a purple sparkly one for when he’s feeling disco and a green one for when he wants to hang out with Paul and pretend to be a mushroom. Maybe he’ll get them for Christmas next year.)

My next doll was many years in the making. It’s one of those patterns where I got stuck and “put it away for later.” But my recent foray into my WIPs brought it to the forefront, and because my best friend requested it (about 5 years ago) I thought I’d better get on it. So I pulled it off as a Christmas present this past year (finally!) and I’m so glad…’cause she’s pretty cute. I added tiny beads to the edges of her wings, bodice and skirt but I’m not sure they show up in these photos.

(Pattern by rabbizdesign: on Etsy)

Tinkerbell in her garden
Tink with her arms crossed
She’s so cute!
Tink's flying apparatus
From the back – maybe you can see the beads on the wings?










It wasn’t the easiest pattern to follow, but it’s the best one I’ve found online for Tinkerbell.

I really enjoy crocheting dolls, animals, amigarumi. Putting the pieces together kind of stresses me out but it’s worth sticking with it because the results are so cute. In the past I’ve made ninjas, amazons, medusa, rabbits, monkeys, dogs…wonder how many pics I might have taken of those past efforts…maybe we’ll see in another post. Anyways it’s fun seeing the pieces come together. More to come on that.

P.S. This post made me think of the very first doll I made, who happens to be on the shelf right next to me. So we had a quick photo shoot. I figure I must have been somewhere between 7 and 9 years old. I suspect Mrs. Stoddard helped me with this (love to that sewing angel). Her pinafore dress looks like it gave me a run for my money – there’s gathers where they prolly shouldn’t be and messy connection points all over the place. But she has distinct legs and a dress that covers them – I’m impressed!

My first sewn doll!
My first sewn doll! The facial detail amazes me. eyes, rosy cheeks and lips challenge me to this day. So brave, this new seamstress.
detail of back
Backside of the dress. Looks like a crossed pinafore w/ gathers was challenging…but accomplished!

Santa Cruz Beauty

Guess who figured out how to post from her phone!


Flowers outside Trader Joe's
Flowers outside Trader Joe’s

Ran some errands with my girl today on this whirlwind weekend in SC. Filled the fridge, got her a new top and grabbed some lunch. You would think I would have some pics of her but she gets impatient enough when I take pics of flowers. They’re both so beautiful!

Clean Storage Unit = New Craft Table!

I’m celebrating two momentous occasions here: we cleaned out a storage unit (mo’ money in the bank) and we discovered a craft table (mo’ crafts in the houz…sorry couldn’t resist…it seemed meant to be.)

So I’ve rallied the button troops and got everyone moved to the new staging ground.

My new craft table!
My new craft table!
these are valves - here's what it says: "Insta-Valve: this side toward bottle." The back side is a moving that goes up and down.
these are valves (sorry for the blurry picture) – here’s what it says: “Insta-Valve: this side toward bottle.” The back side is a moving piece that goes up and down. What is this thing?
fun red buttons
fun red buttons
baby buttons!
baby buttons!

(i’ll get better at close-up photography…as God is my witness…!)

BONUS: metallic thread that arrived recently for a future project...not tellin' which one!!
BONUS: metallic thread that arrived recently for a future project…not tellin’ which one!!

(well I guess there’s some detail in that photo…learning)

I’m headed on the road this weekend and haven’t figured out how to post to WordPress from my phone. So i’ll try to pursue some kind of art every day and take pics with my phone, then I’ll catch up on Monday with a cumulative post. Seems like the easiest way. The buttons will rest at home for awhile and I’ll figure out what crochet to take on the trip (maybe I’ll finally finish that tote bag?!)

fun red buttons

Marge is an angel

I just got off work and I plan to finish up my crochet tote bag tonight – so hopefully more pictures to come. But I had to take a moment and share that my amazing friend Marge called this morning out of the blue and when I answered (I never know if she might be having an emergency she needs help with – it’s happened before), she said, “Is this the artist lady who is making art with buttons?” I find her at her sharpest right now – never missing a trick. I love that she absorbed our last conversation about art and thought to check in with me on it. It was a nice morning wake-up call/reminder of what makes me happy.

I am envisioning an embroidery picture I can make with some of her buttons as flower centers….

A story about Marge and Aaron that I love:

One day we stopped by while walking the dog and a basketball game was on the TV (it was the San Antonio Spurs so I was particularly interested). They were watching the game together and Aaron told us that they met in high school because they were both on the basketball team (separate teams for girls and boys of course) and because of their shared interest they began to date. I love to imagine Marge and Aaron as high school sweethearts and athletes, and it’s certainly no stretch to see the way that follows through as they care for each other in old age.

Going go to string a few more buttons together…

vintage buttons

Keep On Keepin’ On

Today’s art was more about process than end result. I’m pretty close to the end of the crochet bag I posted yesterday, but the picture won’t look much different. I think I finished the last part of the strap tonight (I got very distracted on the last/50th round by “Meet the Patels” on netflix – I gave it 5 stars even though the captions didn’t cover all the parts in Gujarti. I had to guess and extrapolate for those parts.).

I suspect I just need to connect the two pieces of strap and attach the Grisly Adams elkhorn button and I’ll be done (if I decide not to line it…should I line it? what will I put in it that might fall out of the crochet holes? Maybe a crochet hook for the next project? I’m pretty sure I’ll line it with a piece of white curtain that doesn’t fit any of my current windows.).

So I’m back to the buttons. There’s so much life in all these collected pieces, I’m taking my time sorting them and stringing them (back) together. It’s occurred to me that using sandwich bags or containers might be quicker to categorize them, but I’m sad to cut the old thread system that held them all (as soon as I lifted it they started breaking off). So I’m sewing them back together in loops like Marge must have done at least 60 years ago. It seems like the best way to store them for their next life in crafting.

As they arrived
As they arrived

I think I just figured out the way to link to larger versions of images!! Watch out. 🙂

All connected on one string
All connected on one string
The green background w/ white tree is part of the tin she's storing these in.
The green background w/ white tree is part of the tin she’s storing these in.
She told me these were buttons from a sailor dress!
She told me these were buttons from a sailor dress! Hand-painted for sure – they’re so big and impractical. It must have been an amazing dress.
I have never seen white buttons this BIG and this SMALL! What shall I do with this amazing windfall?
I have never seen white buttons this BIG and this SMALL! What shall I do with this amazing windfall? (can you spot the square button?!)

(P.S. Speaking of made things, the background is our dining room table to which I affixed a National Geographic map when my kids were young. We played lots of fun geographic games over meals in those days…I still think it was genius, if I do say so myself.)

And now for something completely different…

Scruffy ears, with pine cone frame
Scruffy ears, with beginnings of pine cone frame
Meditation Session
Meditation Session

OK – so here’s my next project. I’m heading to an art retreat in early March and I need to sew some arms/legs/body for a doll. So here’s the materials I’ve picked out from my stash.

I think dots are legs, orange is body and hearts are arms (tattoos!)
I think dots are legs, orange is body and hearts are arms (tattoos!)

(Clicking on those images will give you some close-up opps.)

The Good Ol’ Days

Recently I pulled all my “WIP’s” (Works in Progress) out of their hiding places and lined them up for completion. It’s an interesting task, seeing all the spots in projects where I decided to “give it up” and move on to something new.

Here’s a purse I started at least 3 years ago on our trip to Spain (I know because I remember starting it as a gift for my daughter, and also there’s this band pasted at the bottom of the pattern book 🙂

The only word I recognize on the band is “alcohol” so it’s guaranteed as an artifact of my trip. 🙂

I think my daughter has outgrown this style of purse by now (plus she has so many others in her repertoire at this point), that I’m planning to use this for my sewing projects.

So there’s these interesting buttons I bought at a garage sale up the street a few years ago, and i think one will work perfectly on this purse.

I’ve decided to use this in honor of Grizzly Adams’ recent death (it’s kind of toothy and I’m not sure when I’ll sew a rawhide moccasin next).

So then there’s my wonderful friend Marge a block over. We met about 10 years ago when I was walking our (then) new puppy Scruffy. She’s now approaching her centenarian years and she shared her button and spool collection with me today.


As we slowly uncovered these things from her closets and drawers she told me that she was a child of the Depression, so she saved everything (one of her kitchen junk drawers contains self-threading needles and rounded needles. I’ve never heard of self-threading needles and she and I and both couldn’t remember what one needs a rounded needle for. We’ve both seen it, but can’t remember it.)

And in this tin of buttons I found whole shirts’ worth, jackets’ worth, baby clothes’ worth of buttons. They’re huge and they’re tiny, and they’re steadfastly gathered from clothing that must have moved on to the rag bag. Before it went to rags she gathered these buttons from each piece, and I feel moved to create something from each set of buttons. We really don’t do that anymore do we? Work pieces and parts until they’re basically ground to dust. Some of these buttons actually disintegrated in my hands.

There’s coconut buttons along with plastic blue and yellow buttons – all steadfastly gathered from the shirt before it went to the rag bag.

Wooden thread spool threads she saved.

Pearl and diamond buttons that were removed to be used later.

Some big and small buttons

There are some super small buttons in the mix that must be from baby clothes or doll clothes.

Actual leather buttons! I love to imagine what these came from and I’m excited to think about where they’ll land.

How lucky I am to know Marge and Aaron in my neighborhood. I love you both so much and I appreciate you sharing your history with us.