Monday, December 15, 2008

holidays at home

I've never spent a Christmas somewhere other than my parent's house, but this year I won't be in Connecticut to celebrate with my family until after the holiday. I'll miss making cookies with cousins, decorating the tree in my Parent's living room, and partaking in the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day gatherings. But I'm not going to be all alone this year; I'll be celebrating with Z and his Mom. One of the benefits of remaining at my house from Christmas is this year I've actually had a reason to decorate the house. I started my quest in August, when I knit Z's stocking. Ever since, I've been steadily working toward finishing gifts and making holiday decorations. Now that Christmas is less than two weeks away, I'm nearing the final stretch of my preparations. My mother and sister's gifts are complete, and I'm working on dad, grandma, and my brother. I opted to complete small projects for each person this year in an attempt to finish everything, and I might actually pull it off.
Of course, in between gift making, I've been filling our house with winter greenery and handmade garlands, like the i-cord I knit to hang over the fireplace.
One of the advantages of living in the South during the winter is magnolia trees. Their leaves are so shiny and festive, I of course couldn't resist fashioning an arrangement for our mantle.

In addition to decorating our fireplace, I've strung cranberry garlands, decorated our first Christmas tree, and made a prodigious number of cinnamon ornaments. I love opening the front door to the scent of spice, citrus, and evergreen; it's what I remember Christmas smelling like when I was little.
Although I've already finished so much of what I set out to complete, I'll probably be working right through Christmas Eve. But that's how I like to spend the holidays - accumulating piles of handmade gifts. Anyhow, in the winter there's nothing better than curling up in a warm house with knitting in hand and loved ones by my side. That's certainly how I'll be spending my time during the coming week.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

my week in boxes

I've spent the better part of this week assembling lots of little handmade boxes. A lot of work goes into each one, but they're among my favorite book artsy things to make. This year, I vowed that I would have a batch to sell at various holiday fairs, and I've happily succeeded; I've got 15 hinged boxes covered in all sorts of fabrics and coordinating book cloths. A part of me really wants to make hundreds of these little containers - enough to build myself a fortress. But that would leave me no time to do necessary things like finishing my current book project and sleeping.

And the winners are ...

I had no idea I would get as many responses as I did yesterday. Thanks to everyone who commented, and I hope you'll stop back by the blog from time to time! After consulting a random list generator, I'm happy to announce that Megan and Katy are the contest winners. If I haven't contacted you, please leave your email address or some other way for me to get in touch with you in a comment.

I had a lot of fun yesterday, and wouldn't be surprised if I hosted another giveaway later this month. Check back for updates!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Happy Giveaway Day

Life has been busy here at the press. I've spent the last few days making holiday boxes and carving linoleum until my fingers were raw (really, I have the wounds to prove it!), but I'm not complaining. Once Friday rolls around, I'm going to have a batch of adorable hinged boxes and a stack of handmade holiday cards.

Today, however, I get to take a little break from my production schedule and participate in Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day. I'm offering one of my hand stitched and painted journals to one person. To play, before the end of today, tell me about something you're making for the holidays. And of course, don't forget to check out all of the other goodies on offer today!

Since so many of you are participating in the giveaway day madness, I've decided to give one more gift: A set of 4 letterpress printed holiday cards. I'm still working on these, but here's a preview! They're printed with a very heraldic hand-carved linocut.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Turkey, spinning wheel, holiday giveaway!

I haven't quite digested the fact that the holiday season is here. I have however, digested a lot of turkey, sweet potato, stuffing, shrimp and grits, and other festive foods. And now I'm getting ready for the holidays.
This will be my first year spending it here in Alabama with Z instead of back in Connecticut, and although I will miss making cookies with my Mom, sister, and cousins, and the Christmas Eve and Day family festivities, I'm excited about decorating my own house and having people over for multiple celebrations. In preparation for the season, I spent Thanksgiving weekend doing nothing but eating with friends, knitting like a fiend, and watching more cartoons than I probably have in years. On Thanksgiving I made a delicious cider brined turkey, my first ever, and it turned out beautifully glazed and golden. We had fun photographing each other and the dogs, and joined our friends for a massive dinner, which featured duck roasted in an outdoor brick oven, smoked turkey, and my brined bird. All that eating and socializing drove Z and I to spend the rest of the weekend curled up on the couch, and we watch movies and cartoons as I knit us each an Elizabeth Zimmermann winter cap and finished a tomten jacket I had started a few days prior.
Now I'm getting ready to return to life as usual, which isn't actually so bad either. I'll be making paper and handmade boxes this week, cleaning the house in preparation for holiday decorating, and continuing my gift knitting. I've got a long way to go, but since I've knocked out a couple of presents already, I think I'll be able to manage.
Of course, life as usual also means spinning on my brand new Kromski minstrel, which arrived in the mail just two weeks ago. I tried out one of these pretty wheels while I was at SAFF, and knew it was my wheel. As soon as I sat down to spin, I wanted to buy the minstrel immediately, but I was a good girl. I sold my Ashford traditional and a huge stash of rovings that I'd never actually have time to make into yarn. And then I got to buy my wheel. Now that it's in my home, assembled and in near constant use, I'm thrilled, and as you can see, so is Zelda. The Minstrel spins like a dream, it's easy to carry from place to place, and the design is just fancy enough. I love how it looks in our living room (the place where it stays so I can hang out with Z and spin at the same time). Once the holiday season is over, I have big plans to knit a sweater from my own handspun; I've already got about 1/3 of the yarn done, and will be spinning the rest when I'm not doing all of the other things on my "to do" list!
In addition to the work and domestic chores, I'll be participating in Sew Mama Sew's giveaway day on December 3rd. Check back that day to play along and maybe get a handmade book from me! Also, this coming Sunday I'll be at the DCDC craft fair selling all manner of handmade bookish things. It's being held at the UA Arboretum from one until four in the afternoon, under the pavilion. Support local artists and buy handmade this year!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I've finished an embellished journal, and I think I'm in love. There are several more waiting to be sewn at home, but until they're finished, I'll be lavishing this pretty thing with lots of attention. I can't wait to make more!

Monday, November 10, 2008

painting, embroidering, and baking

That's the brief synopsis of how I spent my weekend. Lately I've been experimenting with using just fabric to cover my books. It seems like a good idea, since I'm awfully fond of embroidering designs of my book covers, and skipping the whole adhering fabric to board part would save me a couple of steps.
I've spent a long time thinking about how to make my fabric into usable, sturdy covers, and now I've finally applied all that thinking to coming up with an actual project. They're turning out beautifully. I coated natural covered heavyweight canvas with tinted gesso to get a sturdy but flexible material, and I've been playing with different fabric and beaded/button embellishments. I can't wait until I've got finished journals to photograph!
I should have four available for sale at the greencup books zine and media fest this Friday and Saturday in Birmingham, that is, unless I encounter problems with the binding. I don't think that's going to be the case, though. I already know how I'm sewing the journals, and I'll be reinforcing the spine with coordinating gessoed pieces to prevent it from cupping inward.
I did take a short break from bookbinding on Saturday to make perhaps the most delicious cake ever. Since October, I've wanted to make a spice cake, and when I found this recipe, I could no longer resist the temptation. My finished cake, with molasses-cream cheese icing, toasted pecans, and homemade caramel sauce, was a hit. Since I was feeling festive, I even gathered some magnolia leaves from the front yard and used them to line my cake plate. It was so lovely that my heart sank a little when we started cutting into it. But as soon as I took a bite, I had no remorse for destroying a thing of beauty. Now if the remnants weren't in the fridge taunting me ...
I just need to make more book covers and I'll forget all about it.