Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Crash!

If you have ever been in our notion room, you know that we have beads from floor to ceiling - literally - we are busting out at the seams. Thursday, as Dawn was quietly enjoying her lunch - the shelf filled with dozens of apothecary jars of old beads - came crashing down. The heart-stopping noise surrounded Dawn and, like a trooper, she picked up her lunch and walked outside (mainly to avoid the layer of dust that came up from the crash!) She called me at home and said the strangest thing had just happened at the shop. When I asked her how bad was it -and she didn't answer - I knew it was bad. JZ and I rushed over and we all went right to work cleaning it up and in swooped my mom and dad and put all the beads and broken glass in their car and drove off to start the work of removing the glass shards and then separating the beads.  So - the pink and cranberry and peach (all my favorite colors!) beads - will have their second life - appearing back at the shop soon.  Mom for this, you get Sorter of the Year Award!

Friday, February 27, 2009


Although we thought more people would be challenged to dig into their stash and create a Scrap Beauty - it seems there are more hoarders out there than I knew! A handful of entries made it's way into our studio - and here is a look at the best of the best - actually everything we got! Enjoy these fun creations - made by people all over this big country! Thank you to everyone who participated and for your patience...everything takes a little time around here!
So - what do you say, should we have a vote? Leave a comment and tell me your favorite creative scrap project - the winner will receive $100 gift certificate to my favorite website and a copy of Home Sewn. Vote - it won't cost you a dime! Merci!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

True Lineage

If you are out and about and happen to see the latest issue of Selvedge Magazine, be sure to pick up a copy!  Our article, True Lineage: The Trials and Tribulations of a Ticking Collector (say that a few times fast!) was finally completed and published in the March issue.  Written with details of how and why we collect ticking, along with a history of the striped cloth and some colorful tales of my friend, Elizabeth Baer from Bath - or Mrs. Ticking - as she's known in certain circles.  
The Frugal Issue, number 27, is all about taking care of your textiles.  With articles on mending, washing, drying and dying your old cloths - this issue is sure to be one to keep!  If you can't find an issue near you, check our website,, where we'll have some signed issues for sale soon.  Merci!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Old Hemp Sheets

I'm a bit obsessed with old hemp. Anyone that comes to our house for an overnight visit usually stays in our sun room and sleeps between antique hemp sheets. If they are the hardy type, like one of my brothers, they get one of the heavily textured (some might even say scratchy!) sheets. But if they are a first nighter, I start them off with the best - maybe even a soft linen sheet on the bottom and a cool, crisp nettle sheet on top. The combinations are endless and if guests are game, I like to switch it up a bit each night. Try the fil linen sheet on top and the nubby hemp/linen sheet on the bottom, or no feather filled duvet at all and just the heavy hemp/nettle sheet on the top! Usually, and not always, but usually people wake up in the morning with a good story. "I've never slept so well" or maybe "I was too hot - I need a lighter sheet" - and my favorite, "I dreamt that I was back in the womb again!"
Sheets do that - especially 200 year old sheets that were woven at home on a small loom and then stitched together down the middle with tiny little secret stitches. The fibers in these sheets have magic properties. Because of the hollow stems, these fiberous cloths - hemp, nettle and linen - keep you cool in the summer by wicking away moisture and warm in the winter. These cloths actually help to control our body heat. When we sleep, our body temperature changes quite drastically and an old sheet can keep our body at an even temperature which gives us a deeper REM sleep...have I lost you yet??
Ok - back to the pleasure of an old sheet - the hand of an old hemp sheet. Because these sheets have been around for so long, they have seen the wash basin over and over. This washed cloth, which is softer than cotton and more comfortable than silk, has an earthy texture that I have always thought compliments our skin naturally - almost as if it was a living organism. These old sheets also make great curtains, duvet covers, slipcovers and towels...and they dye up beautifully if you need more color in your life.
If you've signed up for our chateau getaway this summer, we'll go out looking for old linen, nettle and hemp sheets - and if you can carry them home (they can weigh up to 5 pounds each) you'll never be able to sleep without them! If you don't make it to France to find your old sheets, you can always find plenty of stock at French General, or check out Couleur-Chanvre - I like their tag line "Nature gets into our houses."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

New Color

Taking my cue from this old millinery rose I decided to paint our dining room. A color called Madrid made by Portola (thanks Christine!) seemes like the right shade right now. It's a little pinky - maybe even a little too fleshy....but I wanted a warm inviting color so that my dining room feels like it's own little gem. I thought I would hang some brown transferware pieces on the wall to ground it a bit. I remember years ago a friend telling me that this soft peachy color was the most relaxing color you could paint a room.
The problem is, I can't really make a decision about a whole room until I have painted the whole room - the large swatch on the wall just doesn't do the trick for me. So I'll paint the whole room and live with it for a while - I just better hurry and finish it before JZ gets home!
Sofia got into the act and added her two cents to the project - seems appropriate.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Wonderhole

Every once in a while I meet someone who completely understands what I do. (Why do I collect old linen button bags, why do I save every scrap of ribbon paper, who really needs 200 boxes of old chenille snails??) A couple of weeks ago, in walked Carol Parks, and she got it. She didn't question anything, she just got it. She piled up the counter high with all sorts of bits and pieces and then announced she was having a fabulous party. I asked her if I could come and she said yes. So, last week, I went to Carol's fabulous party which was held at her North Hollywood home. Her home is part artist studio and part museum - an eclectic mix of everything Carol loves - all in shades of cranberry, blossom and coral. I was happy to see some friends, Pam Garrison and Amy Hanna - and met many new ones. I had such a good time that Carol invited me back the following week, to her annual Valentine soiree - as long as I could make up 36 Valentines to hand out at the Valentine swap. I set to work making up my Valentines, and Sofia and I went back to Carol's home yesterday afternoon. This time the party was even more festive. The table was set with an amazing array of tea sandwiches, scones, macarons from New Orleans and of course, champagne! The house and garden were lit up and sparkling. I think Pam said it best when she said she felt like we had fallen down the Wonderhole from Alice in Wonderland. When we finally did leave, with our shoe box stuffed with Valentines, our ladybug balloon corsages and a couple of takeout boxes of food, Sofia got into the car and said "Wow". That's all - just wow - and that pretty much sums up Carol Parks. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention - you too can visit Carol's home and studio - she offers 3 day craft workshops with some of the most talented artists around. Spend a few days with Carol and you will find yourself and your creative spirit - just in case you lose it once in a while - like I do.

Friday, February 06, 2009


Yesterday afternoon I checked the answering machine and this was what I heard:

Girl 1:  Are you sure you got the directions right?
Girl 2:  Yes, it's on Vista del Mar.
Girl 1:  Well, were on it and I don't see it.
Girl 2:  There it is - wow, it's just a house.
Girl 1:   We're you expecting something different?
Girl 2:  Well, I thought it was a store.
Girl 1:   I don't think she's open.
Girl 2:  Well, we're just going to walk up to the door and say Hello Kaari we traveled all the way from (this is blurred) and she'll let us in.
Girl 1:  There are no cars in the driveway.
Girl 2:  There is a note on the door - what does it say?
Girl 1:  Something about only being open when they are open.

And on and on the conversation goes until finally they realize their phone was still connected and they hang up.  I get so many of these confused messages, here was one that happened a few weeks ago:

Girl 1:  Oh my God, the message says they are only open one day a week!
Girl 2: How can that be - we came all the way from Phoenix??
Girl 1: What kind of shop can only be open one day a week?
Girl 2: Obviously they must not be doing very well.
Girl 1:  How did you say you heard about this place?
Girl 2: I read about them in a magazine 3 years ago.
Girl 1: Well, they must be going out of business, no one can be only open one day a week.

What I really want to do is leave a message on our phone machine that says this:

Me: Hi, you've reached French General.  We are open on Fridays from 11-4.  The reason we are only open one day a week is because we are busy doing one of the following things: packing and shipping out our internet orders, picking up Sofia from school, writing a book, teaching a class, designing fabric or pulling together our monthly kits.  Hope to see you on a Friday.  Thanks for calling.

Molly and I also used to get some pretty interesting notes slid under the door at French General in New York.  It seems some people understand that if you are running a shop, then you should be open 7 days a week from 10-6.  Somehow I never understood that.  I always figured since it was our shop, we could run it any way we liked as long as it was working for us. My dad, who comes from a wholesale and retail background never liked this mentality.  He always thought we needed to be open at least 6 days a week and never close before 5!  I remember one day after Thanksgiving I was sitting around my parent's house and my dad was horrified that we were not going to be open on the biggest shopping day of the year.  Dad, I said, today will not be our biggest shopping day - our customers march to a different drummer.  To this day, I think he is mystified that French General actually survives!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Peaches and Slugs

I was bitten by the flu bug this weekend so it took me an extra day to cut up all the great entries and toss them into the hat! The lucky winner of the box full of chenille snails is: georgiapeachez - and if you send me your address, we'll get a box right out to you and your daughter.
Since there were so many great stories and comments - we will throw in a bundle of snails to anyone who orders on-line this month from Just write snails in the comments section of your order, and you too will be the lucky winner of these odd little slugs. Available till the snails run out - which shouldn't be anytime too soon, since I found hundreds of them!