Saturday, June 22, 2013

Book Review: "Zakka Style" by the Design Collective

"Zakka style" is difficult to define. The simplest definition is that it refers to small items that improve your life - that 'make you happy.' According to a New York Times article "...for example, a plastic ashtray will not qualify as a zakka but a plastic ashtray picked up in a flea market in Paris with "Pernod" inscribed on top, is zakka at the maximum level."

This is a book of 24 small sewing/craft projects, each by a different designer. There is a focus on using natural fabrics like linen or wool, and adding hand sewn detail.  Many of the projects reminded me of the 'quick gift' items you might find in an issue of Quilting Arts magazine.

I was a bit disappointed in this book. I ordered it on impulse thinking it would be similar to what I've found in Japanese craft and sewing magazines and I expected lots of clear illustrated directions and full-size patterns. Instead, while the splash photos of the projects are beautiful, most of the directions are in writing and the illustrations of construction details are limited. Some patterns are full-size, others require you to enlarge the given pattern by 200%, and still others just tell you what dimensions to cut your fabric.

Perhaps this book is better as an inspirational guide than a 'how to' book.

Here is a list of the designers and some of their sites. A few sell zakka items or have tutorials on how to make them, all of their sites are interesting, and each designer has a unique voice.

Rashida Coleman-Hale: I Heart Linen
Lisa Billings:  Pink lemonade Boutique
Julia Bravo: 33 Stitches
Sonia Cantie: cozyhomemaking
Theresia Cookson: minoridesign
Shannon Dreval: petitsdetails
Nova Flitter: A cuppa and a catchup
Christie Fowler: Pigeon Pair
Leslie Good: Goodness
Larissa Holland: mmmcrafts
Masko Jefferson: siamsquare
Amanda Jennings: Hey Porkchop
Holly Keller: ChezeBeeperBebe
Kim Kruzich: Retro Mama
Pascale Mestdagh: pm-betweenthelines
Kat Mew:Zakka inspired
Melody Miller: Melody Miller
Mette Robl: Erleperle
Rachel Roxburgh: Roxy Creations
Amy Sinibaldi: Nana Company
Meg Spaeth: Elsie Marley
Ayumi Takahashi: A Pink Penguin
Karyn Valino: The Work Room
Katrien Van Deuren: A Bit of Pilli Pilli
Laurraine Yuyama: Patchwork Pottery

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Traveling With The Traveling Quilters - Last Day, April 28th

After breakfast we continued our journey. Our first stop was The Creation Station in Buellton. A most unusual quilt shop, with many intriguing ideas and innovations. "Dad" met us first-timers as we got off the bus, and gave us a tour of the shop. I had met "Mom" and her daughter at a short class at the LongBeach Quilt show. A wonderful family!

 Everyone visited the lady's room. (you have to see it, even if you don't use it). An extra treat - besides the neat "goody bag"the quilt shop gave us,  the Solvang Bakery (which is next-door to the shop) also gave us each a cookie. (It was almost too pretty to eat - almost...)

It's a button!

We stopped at Solvang for shopping and lunch on our own.  I found inexpensive lace trim at Buttons and Bows, and cute buttons at Rasmussen's fabric.
Actually - lace, zippers, and inexpensive fabric

 Lunch, unfortunately, was not so good. Well, you can't win them all...

The Elf-Skivers were not made with real elves.

Our last stop of the day, and of the trip (sigh) was Cotton and Chocolate in Thousand Oaks. Another nice selection of fabric and supplies, and more lovely salespeople and inspirations.

I was sorry to end this trip, even though both I and my suitcase were heavier than we started, and my wallet a lot lighter.

If you go:

What should I wear?
Wear layers: There is no way you can get a bus load of quilters to agree on what the right temperature should be inside the bus. If you take a light sweater you can use it for warmth, or to stop up the cold-air coming out of the vents...Also, good walking shoes are a must, and a hat if you are sensitive to sun.

What should I bring?
A suitcase with gussets. Lots of cash. I took my iPod with music and audio books on it to listen to as we rode along as I don't like to read while I'm on a moving vehicle. I also really wished I had a small craft project I could carry with me because seeing all the wonderful examples of fabric art made my fingers itch. I also took two cloth bags for purchases a list of fabric and supplies I would need for upcoming projects, and a list of thread colors I was low on.

What shouldn't I bring?
You probably shouldn't bring husbands or boyfriends unless they are active quilters, and even then they might feel conspicuous being the only male in a large group of women. Check with the tour leaders if you are not sure.

What should I do beforehand?
I googled all the quilt stores we were going to visit to see what their specialties were.  I also tried to divvy out my cash so that I wouldn't overspend my budget the first day.  I wish I had done more research on restaurants for the times we were on our own.

What should I expect?
Well, think of going on a quilt run, only you are going outside of your usual neighborhood, and you won't have to drive or navigate, and you will also be able to eat at nice restaurants and do a little sight-seeing while you are with the group.

Will my trip be like this one?
No. Even though the same basic itinerary may be repeated, The Traveling Quilters crew is constantly researching and updating their lists.

Last thought: I think that there must be a law somewhere that all quilt shop owners and staff are friendly, generous, and creative. No two shops were alike, and every one of them was full of wonderful examples of quilting and sewing projects.

With the Traveling Quarters - Second Day - April 27th

Next morning, after a continental breakfast at La Cuesta Inn, we boarded the bus to continue our adventure.

The first stop was The Quilters' Cupboard in Atascadero, another lovely quilt shop.

After leaving there we drove to Kiler Ridge Olive Farm in Paso Robles  where we had a guided tour of the facilities and an olive-oil tasting, followed by a delicious meal where each course included a different kind of olive oil. This was a unique experience for me, and I learned a lot, the most important thing being that a lot of commercial olive-oil is adulterated or over-processed, so you need to do your homework.

After an exciting ride down Kiler Ridge Road we went to the Seven Sisters Quilt Show, which was being held at the Madonna Inn Expo Center. This was a good-sized quilt show and the time I spent there went by fast.

What I bought today: Fabric, thread, sewing kits, and olive oil!

After the quilt show the bus took us back to the La Cuesta Inn, where dinner was on our own. Fortunately, the Apple Farm Inn and Restaurant was right across the street. Even if you don't eat there, it is fun to walk around the lovely grounds.

Part of Apple Farm grounds 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Traveling with the Traveling Quilters, Day 1 = April 26, 2013

I had been wanting to take an overnight trip with The Traveling Quilters ever since I had done a day trip with them. I was lucky to be able to take advantage of a last-minute cancellation on this three-day trip to The Seven Sisters Quilt show (the trips fill up fast).

The first day:

The first departure point was from the Fullerton AmTrak station. We left at 730 in the morning in a clean, modern bus with a restroom. The bus was driven by our excellent driver, Liz.

Starting out on our adventure.
After we picked up the second half of the group in Redondo Beach, our first stop was Roxanne's in Carpenteria.
Roxanne's - "A Wish and a Dream"

So many beautiful fabrics, patterns, and tools. It was hard to decide what to buy.

Next stop was downtown Santa Barbara. The bus let us off near Macy's on State Street and we were on our own for about two hours. I love window-shopping and was especially taken with Tienda Ho on State Street. After a bit more walking around I stopped at Artistic Nails and had a pedicure.
These little piggies went to Santa Barbara
More window shopping, then I grabbed a pecan pie bar at Jeannine's downtown location before I got on the bus.

The second quilt shop of the tour was The Old Town Quilt shop in Orcutt.
A large store with a great variety of fabric, patterns, and notions.

The inside of this store is a lot bigger than it looks from the outside.

Next stop was McLintock's restaurant in Shell Beach. This meal was included in the tour price and we had the choice of several entrees.  I chose the salmon.
Salmon entree at Mclintock's.
The last stop of the day was the La Cuesta Inn in San Luis Obispo. This was a very nice 'boutique' hotel. I especially liked the rubber duck in the soap dish.

The end of a perfect day.