Vancouver in Spring

Over the last week or so, I’ve remembered why I fell in love with this city when I first came here.

Vancouver Panorama from Stanley Park

Fourteen years after moving here, I tend to see more flaws and frustrations than awesome aspects to living here, but weeks like this – with gorgeous, warm weather and family visiting and touring around – are a good reminder to keep my attitude in check so I can enjoy the good stuff.

Blossoms in Vancouver

Yesterday, Greg and I had our first pottery class. I was so caught up in it that I didn’t take any photos (also, my hands were covered in clay), but check out the view from my wheel. Not too bad.

Pottery wheel view in Vancouver, BC.

What I’m Making: Pottery!

First attempts at pottery -

Back in November, I took a clay workshop and made a mug (which I totally use, much to my continuing satisfaction). A few months later, the same studio held another one-night workshop, this time including some wheel time. Wheel time! OMG.

So I made that lopsided bowl at the top of these photos, using a potter’s wheel for the first time since I was a kid at summer camp. And since there were only two wheels but about ten people in the class, during my non-wheel time I made the other two bowls. The ring bowl now sits on the ledge above my bathroom sink, where I use it every day.

First attempts at pottery -

When I got home after the workshop, I told my husband I’d woken the pottery beast that had been lying dormant in my brain for many, many years. I was ready to go deep. I was ready for a proper, weekly workshop.

Then he surprised me by saying he’s always had a fantasy about pottery, too. I’d had no idea!

Which is how it came to be that next week we’re starting a pottery workshop together.

No, of course we haven’t been dreaming aloud about converting our garage into a pottery studio. That would be insane.

Subscribe to My Facebook Live Broadcasts!

I’ve had a love/hate thing going with Facebook for a very, very long time. I love it for making it so easy to stay in touch with far-flung friends and family; I hate it for making it so complicated to use for business.

But right now, for the first time ever, I’m loving it far more than hating it.

Did you know that Facebook has been rolling out the ability for people to do live video broadcasts, like Periscope? It’s called Facebook Live.

I’d sorta noticed other people doing it, but then I heard Kara, of Kara’s Couture Cakes, describe the details of it, and a giant window in my brain opened right up.

I’ve loved using Periscope to do live video. But I’ve been aware all along that Periscope has some inherent downsides: to watch a Periscope broadcast, you have to have the app on your phone; Periscope is still new, so not that many people have the app on their phone; you can comment during Periscope broadcasts, but twenty-four hours after the broadcast, both the video and comments disappear.


But on Facebook? Half the world is already on there. And though you can only broadcast using a mobile device, you can watch live videos on any platform including your desktop computer. And the piece de resistance: when a broadcast ends, the video is archived permanently on the broadcaster’s page, and people can continue to like and comment on it indefinitely. There can be actual ongoing conversation!

Which, to me, just all sounds like tremendous fun.

So last week I did my first Facebook Live broadcast. And it was fun. You can see it right here.

And when you hover over that video, click the link to subscribe! That means you’ll be alerted by Facebook whenever I broadcast live. Even if you can’t tune in right then and there, you’ll be able to click the notification to see the archived video whenever you want.

I’m going to share more projects I make on there, and do some tutorials, talk about daily creative habits, and generally wax on about why and how we can all have more fun making stuff. I hope you’ll join me!

(If you’re not on Facebook, or are cynical like I am and don’t want to watch the video over there, I’m posting it below. Go ahead and indulge your curiosity.)


A Shawl from Yarn Scraps

Crocheted crescent-shaped shawl made with scrap yarn.

My favourite kinds of projects, no matter the medium, are ones made from scraps. I just love saving perfectly good materials from the landfill, and creating something useful (and maybe sometimes beautiful) from them. (Ok, I also love making truly hideous things from scraps, obviously.)

So whenever I finish a yarn project and I have more than a tiny bit of yarn leftover, I keep it. Then every so often, I feel overcome by a need to make something up on the fly, and I turn to the pile of scraps.

This time around, I got it in my head to crochet a trapezoidal shawl.

Eventually, though, the yarns told me they didn’t want to be a stupid trapezoid, they wanted to be a half-circle. As it happens, I’ve had crocheted circles on the brain for a totally different project (more on that in a couple of months), so maybe it was that. Or maybe yarn really does speak, and it’s our job to just shut up and listen.

Crocheted crescent-shaped shawl made with scrap yarn.

Featured in the shawl so far are leftovers from three knitted shawls I loved making, the wedding shawl I crocheted for a friend, and a few random balls I had lying around from projects that never actually got off the ground.

I’d never ordinarily seek to put all these colours and varieties of yarn together in a project, which is another reason I love making things from scraps – the constraint of only using what I have on hand forces me to see possibilities I’d otherwise overlook.

Crocheted crescent-shaped shawl made with scrap yarn.


I’m excited to see where this project goes! It won’t be much longer before I’ll be deciding which colour will go last, and whether I should put an edging on it.

What do you think I should do?


Shawl from Yarn Scraps

How to Get Started Quilting with Old Clothes: A Maker Concierge Report

The Maker Concierge on How To Make a Quilt from Old Clothing

Quilting is an outstanding way to reuse and upcycle old clothing, and quilters have a long tradition of turning worn-out and stained clothing (or scraps) into warm and beautiful blankets. I, too, love using up every last bit of material that would otherwise end up in the landfill, so I was thrilled when I got this question from Kelly in Washington, DC, in my Maker Concierge inbox.

If you’ve ever wanted to turn a pile of well-loved clothing into a warm and snuggly quilt, here’s how to get started!

Quilting & Clothing Recycling Tutorials and Online Classes

Books & Magazines

Tips & Notes

  • If any of the clothes you’ll be using are knits (like t-shirts or sweats), you’ll need to stabilize that fabric before sewing it. Google for more info on how (or take the Craftsy T-shirt quilt class I mentioned above).
  • I hereby give you permission to buy fabric (even thrifted bedsheets) to fill in gaps or tie together the visual look!

Eye Candy


In the Washington, DC, Area

My Trip Back East, Summed Up in One Video

Nothing like travelling with a five-year-old clear across the continent, and getting laryngitis the day after arriving. Fun times!

We’re on a two-week trip visiting family during my son’s spring break, and it’s been a whirlwind of visits, activities, illness and work. This Periscope broadcast I did yesterday morning pretty much sums it up, I think (featuring most of my immediate family!).


How to Make a Graveyard Themed Terrarium: A Maker Concierge Report

How to Get Started Making a Graveyard-themed Terrarium – The Maker Concierge

Laurie in Lynn, MA, has been dreaming about making a graveyard-themed terrarium. After preparing some advice for her on how to get started, I totally want to make one, too. Here’s a great list of resources for how to get started (many of which could certainly be used to make terrariums that are totally unrelated to graveyards!)

Tips & Notes

It seems like there are a variety of not-terribly-in-depth graveyard-specific terrarium ideas online, but I suggest you start with plain terrarium information and tutorials, and add your own graveyard touches as you desire. Look for products and tutorials that will help you craft your own miniatures, or miniature graveyard.

Terrarium Building Tutorials

Books & Magazines

Eye Candy


In the Lynn, MA, Area

Win $1000 for Your Favourite Craft Charity!

Win $1,000 for your favourite craft-focused charity!

As you may know, March is National Craft Month.

As you may also know, one of the major parts of the work I do is as a crochet instructor at Craftsy. Crochet is the craft that got me onto this path toward camp-counseloring-for-grownups, and I love that Craftsy enables me to teach students from all over the world whom I’d never have a chance to encounter without the magic of their platform.

(And to be perfectly frank, my income from Craftsy allows me to do nutty spontaneous things like launch the Maker Concierge on a total whim. So I love it even more!)

This month, for National Craft Month, Craftsy is doing a very cool thing. They’re going to make a $1,000 donation to a craft-focused charity of one lucky student’s choice.

Every person who purchases a Craftsy class between now and March 13th will be entered into the draw to choose the charity.

If you’re new to the whole concept of online craft classes, here’s why I think they’re awesome (and not just as a teacher, but also as someone who loves taking online classes):

  • You get hours of high-quality video instruction you can watch at your own pace, repeat as needed, and refer back to whenever you want.
  • Yes, I most certainly mean you can work through them in your pajamas, on your comfy couch, at any time of day or night.
  • And yes, you have access to the class forever (on some platforms – Craftsy included).
  • At least on Craftsy (not all platforms include this), you also get access to the instructor – you can ask questions anytime, and the teacher will answer you. (This is the part I truly love, because though the videos are awesome, it can still be very hard to know what’s going wrong when you’re stuck on a certain technique and are pulling your hair out.)
  • Downloadable class materials complement the video instruction. In my Craftsy classes, for example, downloads include stitch patterns, diagrams, and reference materials.
  • There’s just a massive variety of classes available. Like, there’s one on the science of bread-making that I just discovered, and I think it might change my life. And there’s one on how to make a t-shirt quilt, and one on how to knit faster, and one on taking great photos with your phonecam.

Perhaps most importantly, online classes enable us to learn pretty much anything we want, even if those things aren’t taught in our own local communities or our schedules don’t allow us to easily attend in-person classes.

As someone whose major schpiel in life is encouraging people to try new creative things, online classes are like magic.

Which is all to say that if you’ve been wanting to learn some new things, signing up for a Craftsy class by March 13th would be a good time to do it, since you’ll get a chance to decide where that $1,000 donation will go. That’s a pretty cool reason to dive in right away, eh?

PS Links to Craftsy classes are affiliate links, and they all include a discounted registration just for you.

PPS I wrote about this in my last newsletter. I don’t usually duplicate newsletters here on the blog, but I want as many people as possible to hear about this event, so here we are. And you should totally get my newsletter. Just sayin’.

Back to My Bullet Journal

Bullet Journal spread, and why I've come back to my BuJo after a break.

I started my first Bullet Journal two years ago, and it (finally) made me into a notebook-keeper. Which is good, because, being a writer, I was starting to feel like I was doing something wrong in my inability to stick with a notebook habit.

Like with many systems, though, I suppose I got a little antsy, or bored, and when the Get to Work Book came out last year, I thought that maybe its more structured design would enable me to be more structured, while still being flexible enough to accommodate some simple bullet journaling. So I ordered one and fell in love with it.

But the GTWB is big. Quite big. It’s not as easy to tote around as a plain-old notebook. So after a while I started looking around some more, and discovered the Hibonichi planner. Which is small. And lovely. With surprisingly solid, very thin paper my fountain pen wouldn’t bleed through.

And though I enjoyed adapting to the Hibonichi, and it’s just so fabulous, after a disappointingly short time I found myself longing for the less rigid structure of a plain-old notebook Bullet Journal again. The grass is always greener, people. The grass is always greener.

I wanted to be able to take notes wherever I wanted, and have a day’s to-do list be any length it needed to be. I wanted a notebook without much structure that I could just tote around everywhere, to hold all the thoughts, tasks, and notes I need to capture.


So I plucked a brand new notebook from my shelf (which I’d purchased right before the GTWB launched), and took a few minutes to set up a new Bullet Journal. And I felt like I had come home.

Now. In the years since I first came upon this delightfully simple system, bloggers have gone nuts showing off their own journals. I love me some journal eye candy. I love it so much.

But I do not produce an eye-candy journal. No, I most certainly do not. I do not colour-code. I do not adorn. I do not apply fancy hand-lettering to headings and titles. I don’t even try to keep my handwriting in check.

So I thought, though I’ve only been back at it for a week, that I’d show you a few spreads from my new BuJo (that’s what the kids call it these days).

Up at the top of the post is something new I’m trying out this time around: a Calendex; it’s like the love child of an index and a yearly calendar. As you can see, I haven’t actually used it yet. But I do have some things coming up later in the year, so I anticipate I’ll end up using it. Even if I don’t, it sure is pretty. And it’s the first time I took a ruler to my journal. Fancy.

Month & Day Spread

Bullet Journal month and day spread, and why I've come back to my BuJo after a break.

Above is the spread with my February task list on the left, and some daily to-do lists on the right. I didn’t keep a monthly task list in my last journal, but I think I’ll stick with it in this one. It felt pretty good to mark all the February tasks as completed at the end of the month, and it helped to see them all in one place.

For daily to-dos, well. This is why I fell in love with this system in the first place (this, and the whole index idea). It’s second nature to me to make lists this way now (not that it’s terribly different from any other kind of to-do list.) I’ve also added a daily tracker bit in the top-right corner of each day’s list. I’m using this to keep up with exercising and my daily art/craft making habit. In the past, I’ve kept track of my daily making on a dedicated spread, but I’ve come to accept that I don’t end up using dedicated spreads very much, but I do use a daily list. So this is my solution.

(Yes, I totally did end up scoring a pair of Paul Simon tickets on the 24th. Thirteenth Row, Centre. Holy smokes.)

Day & Notes Spread

Bullet Journal spread, and why I've come back to my BuJo after a break.

Heh. So, yeah, I turned the page and totally didn’t do the daily tracking thing on the next few days. I’m back to it now, though.

What I really want to highlight here is that my journal is not tidy. There’s loads of Bullet Journal pr0n around, you guys, and I gotta say it all strikes me as pretty fictional. You can keep a meticulous journal if you write things down after the fact, but there’s just no way that a work-in-progress can be perfect. It’s fiction. So here’s my reality.

On the left, you can see some messy notes. On the right, you can see some very rough notes I started making in pencil, because I knew I’d have to erase things and really mess around.

You might notice that these photos do not feature my beloved fountain pen. I discovered many years ago that two things allow me to keep my handwriting legible: small ruled lines or grids (I was a college-rule student all the way; no wide-ruled paper for me!), and a pen that allows for some friction. In fact, the only time I’m truly happy with my handwriting is when I write in pencil. The friction is ace.

Fountain pens are lovely to write with, and I certainly haven’t given mine up, but they’re just so smooth! Too smooth. I’ve taken to using a Micron pen in this journal, and it’s for sure the right choice.


Do you keep a Bullet Journal? What are your favourite modules and hacks? And is your journal super neat and tidy, or more of a mess like mine?


Bullet Journal spreads, and why I've come back to my BuJo after a break.

How to Get Started Hand Quilting: A Maker Concierge Report

How to Get Started Hand Quilting, by the Maker Concierge

I’ve been wanting to try out hand quilting for a long time, so I was delighted when the first Maker Concierge request came in from Kelly, in Stamford, CT, about exactly that. Since Kelly and I are surely not the only people in the world who dream of hand quilting, here’s a summary of the report I sent her on how to get started.

Hand Quilting Tutorials and Online Classes

Books & Magazines

  • Quiltmaking by Hand: Simple Stitches, Exquisite Quilts, by Jinny Beyer
  • That Perfect Stitch: The Secrets of Fine Hand Quilting, by Dierdra A. McElroy

Tips & Notes

  • Hand-quilting needles are shorter than regular sewing needles.
  • There’s plenty of discussion about which style(s) of thimbles to use – don’t let it stop you from choosing one and trying it out! If it doesn’t work for you, try another kind.

Eye Candy


English paper piecing involves sewing small pieces of fabric together by hand; could be a neat thing to hand-quilt. Here’s a Creativebug class on how to do it.

In the Stamford, CT Area

If the drive isn’t too long, the Connecticut Piecemakers Quilt Guild meets in Trumbull.