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I've created a line of wooden peg looms to make potholders and projects of other sizes. Read the story behind the looms and check out my etsy shop.


Lottie Da + True Colors = One Lovely Apron & a Fabric Giveaway!


When the nice folks at FreeSpirit invited me to be participate in the True Colors blog tour, I wanted to freeze time and make a large quilt. Sadly, my crazy schedule didn’t allow time for a deadline sewing marathon. But it’s okay. My need for speed gave me the perfect opportunity to launch into one of my favorite fast sewing projects of all time. I made a new apron to wear around town. I haven’t made myself a new apron in far too and I happen to think aprons are fabulous accessories and wonderful for showcasing pretty fabrics.


Before I walk you through my apron project I’d like to give you a little background info. True Colors is what the folks at FreeSpirit describe as “a new, designer-driven program featuring fresh, modern prints” created by designers Joel DewberryAnna Maria HornerHeather Bailey and Jenean Morrison

Each designer created five distinctive prints in four color ways that can be used alone or as mixer prints in quilting and other sewing projects. The True Colors collection offers more creative options for fabric lovers and even look pretty in a pile. (I’d rather not disclose how many pictures I took of the fabric before I cut into it. : )


IMG_6882FreeSpirit sent me Heather Bailey’s  True Colors fabric and sampling of her lovely Lottie Da collection and I got to work designing a new five-panel apron using 12 different prints. The great thing about this apron is that is showcases several prints at once and can be made out of a stack of fat quarters and one jelly roll, with plenty of fabric left over to make more aprons and happy scraps to do a English paper piecing project.


 I’ve already whipped up a couple hexagon blooms. :)


To make my apron, I started by drawing out my pattern template on freezer paper. Then I selected five complimentary prints from Heather’s Lottie Da collection for each panel and then paired each panel print with a contrasting blender fabric from her True Colors line. The True Colors fabrics served as  a chunky border trim at the bottom of  each panel. To speed things along, I cut the trim pieces from a True Colors jelly roll. 


When it came to mixing and matching, it was great to have an expanded selection of fabric designed by Heather. The prints work well together and left me with many design options. I have big plans to sew more projects using this collection and I’m excited about all the color and print combinations. I think there might be some patchwork skirts and quilts for my daughters on the horizon.


But let’s get back to the apron project. After pairing five Lottie Da prints with five True Colors mixers, I decided to add it two more Lottie Da prints. I used an olive print for the waistband and swapped in the gray colorway to create extra long ties that can be wrapped around and tied in a cute bow in front. Instead of hemming the bottom of the apron, I finished it off with solid gray bias tape. I had planned to sew on a polkadot pocket, but then decided to skip it. But I’m big on pockets and something tells me this apron will have at least one by the weekend. : )

IMG_7199I topstitched the apron with gray Coats & Clark Dual Duty thread, stitching on each side of the panel seams and along the ties. This added interest and stability to the apron design.

I’ve been a longtime fan of FreeSpirit fabrics and designers and was very pleased with the results I achieved working with these new fabric collections. High five, Heather! I have a very happy apron hanging up in my dining room thanks to you. :  )


ENTER TO WIN! And because I want to share the wealth I’m inviting you, dear readers, to leave a comment about below and enter a random drawing to win some of Heather’s True Colors fabric. What do you want to make? Tell me all about it below. I’m especially interested in hearing about your favorite take a-long sewing project ideas. I’ll pick some fabric winners at random on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. Good luck, everybody!!

And True Colors Fabric Giveaway Winners Are: 

1) Cara who posted: “The apron you made is gorgeous!! Loving the colors and this new line of fabric. I would make a quilt, table topper or some new spring pillows. The take along project I like or craft is knitting scarfs with Red Hearts Sashay yarn.”

2) Marti Taylor who posted: “My girls have been over the moon for rainbows recently so I would incorporate these with some solids and create a herringbone quilt. Thank you for the chance to win!”

3) Cat Baumgartner who posted: “True colors are such pretty fabrics! Your hexagons really show them off too! I would love to make a true colors quilt!!! Thanks for the opportunity at a giveaway! ~Cat”

CONGRATS LADIES!!! I will be shipping your prizes to you as soon as I have your mailing addresses.

Thanks to all who took the time to post comments!


If you want to go behind the scenes and find out more about True Colors, watch this fun video featuring the designers talking about the fabric line. I’d also like to invite you to check out the rest of the blog tour and see what my extremely talented fellow bloggers are making with True Colors fabrics. Click the links below and have a great day!

1/20 Sew4Home
1/21 Stitchery Dickory Dock
1/22 I’m A Ginger Monkey
1/23 The Sewing Loft
1/24 Ellison Lane
1/27 Dairy of A Quilter
1/28 Material Obsession
1/29 Craftsanity
1/30 Stitched in Color
1/31 Craft Buds
2/3 Jaybird Quilts
2/4 Melissa Peda


True Colors. Pretty Fabric. Fun Blog Tour.

Hello Folks!

I’m popping in to tell you about a blog tour that I’m participating in that involves chances for you to win lovely fabric. Yes, you’re going to want to keep reading.

In an effort to promote the True Colors line of mixer fabric prints, the folks at FreeSpirit are looking to spread some fabric love in the blogosphere.

They recruited some bloggers, sent us boxes of delicious fabric and gave us some extra goodies to give away. (Check back Jan. 29 to enter to win.)

I didn’t eat the fabric, of course, but my box contained a visual feast of Heather Bailey’s True Colors fabric and sampling of her lovely Lottie Da collection (below), which has a great vintage-inspired feel.

(Jacquie and Julie, my dear sisters, you really need to check this stuff out! Come over and sew with me!!)  



So what is True Colors all about? Well, the folks at FreeSpirit describe it as “a new, designer-driven program featuring fresh, modern prints” created by designers Joel Dewberry, Anna Maria Horner, Heather Bailey and Jenean Morrison. Each designer created five distinctive prints in four color ways that can be used alone or as mixer prints in quilting and other sewing projects. The True Colors collection offers more creative options for fabric lovers and even look pretty in a pile.

I’ll be whipping up something fun using Heather’s True Colors prints mixed with her Lottie Da collection to post on my assigned day later this month. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the tour (links below). The party starts Monday, folks! Don’t miss out!


1/20 Sew4Home
1/21 Stitchery Dickory Dock
1/22 I’m A Ginger Monkey
1/23 The Sewing Loft
1/24 Ellison Lane
1/27 Dairy of A Quilter
1/28 Material Obsession
1/29 Craftsanity
1/30 Stitched in Color
1/31 Craft Buds
2/3 Jaybird Quilts
2/4 Melissa Peda


Frozen Bubble Magic


Hello Again!

Last weekend everything here in West Michigan was frozen and now – when I’m finally posting this frozen bubble blurb – there’s a massive thaw underway. Boo! As a lifelong Michigan resident, I should have known better than to hold back an activity that requires freezing temps. The only reason I sat on this is because I didn’t want to scoop myself. I wrote my newspaper column on this topic and it was published today. You can read it here.

I was inspired to try this after seeing Kelly’s stunning frozen bubble photography and you should really try it too. It’s magical to watch a bubble land and freeze and last longer that they ever do on a hot summer day.


Last Sunday I traveled to a far off place without leaving my front porch photographing bubbles freezing, caving in and flaking away. It’s really beautiful to watch. I wish I would have heard about this back when I was a kid. It would have been so fun to do this on snow days with my sisters.

So stock up on bubbles next time you’re at the store and get your camera ready for the next deep freeze. Then show everyone your photos and inspire others to try this all ages, wonderment-inducing activity.

And because it’s not cold enough to freeze bubbles here in West Michigan today, I’m going to share links to the nerdy videos I shot on my front porch. I didn’t have time to set it all to music, but I hope you’ll enjoy the visuals. If you decide to try it, stop back and let me know how it went in the comments. :  )

Potholder LOVE: A fundraiser to help the Wes Leonard Heart Foundation get more AEDs in schools

 Potholder LOVE

Potholder LOVE

Hello! Welcome to the kickoff of the CraftSanity fundraiser to benefit the Wes Leonard Heart Foundation. Last spring I interviewed a Fennville girl for my newspaper column who was selling paintings to help a local charity raise money to get automatic electronic defibrillators (AEDs) into schools without them.

After we talked, I learned that my daughters’ school didn’t have an AED. While it’s unusual for kids to have heart attacks, it happens. It happened to Wes Leonard, a 16-year-old star athlete. Minutes have sinking the game winning shot on March 3, 2011, he collapsed during the post game celebration and died of sudden cardiac arrest. His story made national news and served as a wake up call to everyone who was thinking that something like this would never happen to one of our kids. The tragedy got people thinking, “What if?” and inspired his family to do a really beautiful thing in his memory: get AEDs in schools to save other kids.

His parents and friends started a foundation a month after he died and have raised funds to install 102 AEDs and certified about 900 people in CPR to date. After learning that my kids’ school did not have funds allocated to purchase an AED, I added the school to the AED waiting list last spring and was very grateful to meet Maria Flores from the Wes Leonard Heart Team when she came to our school and delivered an AED. 

The Wes Leonard Foundation gives AEDs to schools with no strings attached. They just require that there are CPR certified people onsite. They don’t require payment for the device, however, it didn’t seem right to take the device that costs the foundation $1,320 and not pay it back so they can buy another AED for a school without one. I attempted to do a small scale fundraiser within the school community, but it lacked momentum and generated less than $100. So my daughters, Abby, 9, and Amelia, 8, and I decided to take this effort to a larger craft community and I wrote a column about it in today’s edition of The Grand Rapids Press.


The girls and some of their school mates have been weaving up a storm to create lovely potholders out of recycled t-shirts. Moms are cutting the t-shirts into loopers and the kids are weaving them into beautiful potholders that measure about 7″ square. We’re selling them for $10 each in the hopes of raising $1,320 for the Wes Leonard Heart Foundation by Feb. 14.

The kids are weaving with recycled t-shirts and CraftSanity is covering the shipping costs, so all $10 generated by the sale of each potholder will go to the purchase of another AED for a school without one. 

Here’s how you can help:


To buy a potholder, send a $10 check made out to the Wes Leonard Heart Foundation to Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood, CraftSanity, P.O. Box 888192, Grand Rapids, MI 49588. I will send you a potholder and forward your check to the foundation. Please DO NOT send cash or write checks to me.

I will be posting more potholder photos in the coming days and the kids continue to weave. To reserve a particular potholder, please leave a comment below that includes your first and last name and the number potholder you want to buy. Potholders will be reserved for up to two weeks and then shipped after payment arrives. If you don’t specify a particular potholder, one will be sent to you at random. (Don’t worry, they’re all super cute.)

Donate your old colorful t-shirts: We’re going through a lot of t-shirts for this project, so get in touch if you have some to donate.

Thanks in advance for supporting this project. It’s so great to see elementary students crafting for a cause. Thank you for helping to empower them to make a difference in their community one potholder at a time.

Questions? Email me.

All the best, my friends. Let’s continue to craft positive change in 2014.



CraftSanity’s Arm Knitting Video Tutorial


Hello! Things have been pretty quiet here on the CraftSanity blog while I’ve been off teaching journalism at the local community college. I’ve been swamped, but I have not stopped crafting or writing my weekly art and craft column for The Grand Rapids Press or Today’s column is about arm knitting and my husband, Jeff, and I made you a video tutorial to go with it.

Turns out I LOVE arm knitting! It’s fast and fun and a great way to whip up some last minute holiday gifts. As the holiday stress takes hold, everyone starts to look really good in handmade scarves including your bald Uncle Joe who already owns four scarves. Just go with it. Arm knitting is a hot trend and an arm knit scarf is technically different from a needle knit scarf, so you’re doing Joe a favor by helping him keep up with the latest handmade fashion trends and for that I’m sure he LOVES you dearly. 


There are some nice instructional videos out there, but I thought it would be helpful to create one that shows you how this arm knitting business will look when you cast on. To accomplish this, I had Jeff shoot the video over my shoulder to give the perspective of what it will look like when you try it at home. Hopefully, you will find this video helpful and inspiring.

Here’s the start of my column so you know what I’m talking about…

Unusual things are happening in the wonderful world of knitting.

It seems a growing number of people are engaging in super-sized knitting using their arms in place of needles. And, in a more bizarre twist on using one’s body to knit, a feminist performance artist named Casey Jenkins just went viral when a video of her knitting a scarf in an art gallery from a ball of yarn she stashed in her nether region made its way to the web.

I respect the originality of Jenkins’ bold 28-day, public “vaginal knitting” experiment, but her technique is obviously very impractical for last-minute holiday gift-making and could result in an embarrassing trip to the ER or indecent exposure charges if executed poorly at a local yarn shop by non-performance artists.

So in the interest of keeping all of us regular knitters healthy and out of jail this holiday season, I recommend using a fancy yarn bowl if wool containment is a must. And if you still need to kick out some last-minute gifts it’s time to roll up your sleeves because I do believe the arm knitters are on to something fabulous.

You can read the rest of the column on Meanwhile, I have to go write next week’s. Feel free to post links to your arm knitting projects in the comments below. Happy knitting!



Craft Away the Winter Blues with Free CraftSanity Workshops at Kent District Library Branches!


Hello! I’m taking a quick break from end-of-the-semester grading to invite Grand Rapids-area crafters to a series of free workshops I’m hosting with nice folks at several Kent District Library branches. I’ve been traveling across the state to teach workshops at my hometown library for for years and I’m very happy to get the opportunity to teach at libraries here in West Michigan.

As part of my partnership with KDL, I will be teaching paper crafting with recycled books, printmaking and English paper piecing. Scroll down to see the full schedule of adult and teen classes and I hope to see some of you there. (Don’t forget to bring along show and tell. I LOVE to see what you’re making!)

The workshops are free but space is limited, so please register online or call 616-784-2007 ext. 0.

Craft Away the Winter Blues for Adults

Recycled Book Crafts
Where: Sand Lake Branch, 88 Eighth St., Sand Lake,
When: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4

Holiday Printmaking
Where: Comstock Park Branch, 3943 W. River Dr. NE, Comstock Park
When: 1 p.m. Dec. 11

Holiday Paper Crafting
Where: KDL Alpine Branch, 5255 Alpine Ave. NW, Comstock Park
When: 10:30 a.m. Dec. 14

Printmaking 101
Where: Rockford Branch, 140 E. Bridge St., Rockford
When: 6:30 p.m. Jan. 13

English Paper Piecing
Where: Alto Branch, 6071 Linfield Ave., Alto
When: 10:30 a.m., Jan. 25

Valentine Crafts
Where: Gaines Branch,
421 68th St. SE, Grand Rapids,
When: 10:30 a.m., Feb. 1

DIY Party Planning On A Budget
Where:  Lowell Branch, 200 N. Monroe St., Lowell
When: 11 a.m., Feb. 8

English Paper Piecing
Where: Byron Branch, 8191 Byron Center Ave. SW, Byron Center
When: 6 p.m. Feb. 11

Teen sessions:
Handmade holiday ornaments and gift tags made out of recycled books
Where: KDL Cascade Branch
When: 3 p.m. Dec. 7

Printmaking 101
Where: 3350 Michael Ave. SW, Wyoming, MI
When: 4:30 pm. Jan. 14 at the Wyoming branch

Okay, I better get back to work… Happy crafting everyone!

P.S. Issue 10 of CraftSanity Magazine is forthcoming. My apologies for the delay.

Great Little Gifts to Knit

great little gifts book cover

In a perfect world I would be posting an updated Q&A with Jean Moss today to coincide with her blog tour, but I’ve been swamped with non-craft related work and have barely had time to brush my hair let alone type up interview questions. It’s disappointing that I haven’t been able to devote more time to my blog lately, but I’m hoping that directing  you to my previous podcast interview with Jean will alleviate some of our collective disappointment about this and give you a chance to hear her story if you haven’t already.

Clearly Jean has been very busy lately, too. Her new book, “Great Little Gifts to Knit: 30 Quick and Colorful Patterns,”(144 pages, $21.95)  is out and and there are several projects inside that are making me wish once again for the ability to freeze time so I can just sit by the fire and knit a few of Jean’s fun patterns.

The book includes an interesting range of patterns for babies, kids, men, women and the home, making it a great gift for the knitters in your life who like to stitch handmade gifts.

While several projects in the book caught my eye, the Zebra Mittens on p. 69, the Hugs Socks on p. 75, Galway Beanie on p. 82 and the Welcome Toran Door Hanging on p. 113 are at the top of my Jean Moss inspired knitting wish list. Now if I could just find time for that knitting break… :  )

Check out the rest of Jean’s blog tour here: 

Sept 2: Wendy Knits Wendy Johnson
Sept. 4:  WEBS    Kathy Elkins
Sept. 6:  Getting Stitched on the Farm Kristin Nicholas
Sept. 9:  Stolen Stitches Carol Feller
Sept. 10 Knittedbliss Julie Crawford
Sept. 11 Black Bunny Fibers Carol Sulcoski
Sept. 12: Rhythm of the Needles Joanne Conklin
Sept. 13: Tiny Owl Knits Stephanie Dosen
Sept. 16  Just Call Me Ruby Susan Crawford
Sept. 16  Just Call Me Ruby Susan Crawford
Sept. 17: Zeneedle Margene Smith
Sept. 18: RedshirtKnitting Erika Barcott
Sept 19:  A Friend to Knit With Leslie Friend
Sept 20: Craft Sanity Jennifer Ackerman Haywood
Sept. 23:  Connieleneknits Connie Lene
Sept. 24: Knitsofacto Annie Cholewa
Sept. 25: Ulla Bella Anita Tormoen
Sept. 26 : A Really Good Yarn Julie Schilthuis
Sept 27: Urban Yarns  Alexa Ludeman
Sept. 28: Linda Marveng  Linda Marveng
Sept 30: Yarnings Jen

Oct 1: Tentenknits  Margaux Hufnagel

Adventures in Soap Making: A Review of the new book ‘Soap Crafting’ by Anne-Marie Faiola


My first attempt at soap making was ridiculous. It was my 31st birthday and I was sporting safety googles and rubber gloves. One judging from my getup may have assumed that I knew what I was doing, but that was certainly not the case.

At the time, I was beyond nervous about using lye to make soap, so nervous, in fact, that I bought the wrong kind – a diluted, liquid variety – and hurried home to mix up a batch of soap that would never amount to anything more than smelly glop.

It was a real disappointment – that first batch of soap. But I tried again and discovered that soap making is actually really fun when you use the proper ingredients. My second batch was much better than my first, and I’ve made several basic batches since in the six years that have passed since my initial cannonball into the exciting world of soap making. I still consider myself a rookie soaper and up until recently I’ve been sticking to very basic recipes.


And then Alee from Storey Publishing sent me a copy of Soap Crafting,” by Anne-Marie Faiola, a.k.a. The Soap Queen, and the book has changed the way I approach soap making and made me wish I had read it before making my first batch. Anne-Marie explains the art and science of soap making in her book that includes instructions to make 31 cold-process soaps ranging from basic beginner soaps to beautiful 12-color Linear Swirl bars that look almost too pretty to use. 


Whether you’re a full-time soap maker or hobbyist, this book provides a great foundation for all of us to up our soap making game. With sections dedicated to choosing oils, colorants and additives, this book serves as an easy resource to pick up quickly and find the information you need to plan your next batch.


I was so impressed by this book that I interviewed Anne-Marie for the upcoming fall issue of CraftSanity Magazine and recorded a podcast with her, too. (Coming soon, folks!) In additional to writing a wonderful book for soap makers, Anne-Marie is a mom and the powerhouse businesswoman who built the Bramble Berry soap supply business from the ground up.

She sent me some fun Bramble Berry supplies to try a couple recipes from the book and I’m happy to say I finally advanced from making the same old plain batches of soap in shoeboxes lined with freezer paper. (One of the great things about Anne-Marie’s book is that it includes directions to use shoeboxes, milk cartons and plastic tubs, PVC pipe and cupcake molds, so investing in fancy molds is not required to try the recipes.) While I do enjoy making and using even the most basic handmade soaps, Anne Marie has expanded my soap world.

soapmixerSince virtually meeting Anne-Marie, I’ve made a batch of soap using the natural colorant spirulina, a high-protein dietary supplement that produces a pretty green color, and three-color Avocado Moisturizing Bars. I made the avocado bars first and botched the batch when I got distracted and let my soap pot get a little too hot. The ingredients separated in the pot. I thought I was going to drown in a sea of embarrassment because I was using supplies Anne-Marie sent me to try a recipe from her book and then I went ahead and made a foolish mistake. Thankfully, Anne-Marie had my back when things went south. On p. 234 of “Soap Crafting” she outlines a “SOS (Save Our Soap)!” modified hot-process technique that can be used to save a batch. And let me tell you, folks, it works.


Anne Marie’s Avocado Moisturizing Bars


These are my rookie Avocado Moisturizing Bars after I accidentally exceeded the recommended cooking temperature for the oil. And because I can’t seem to let anything go to waste, I dropped the undyed soap pieces into the mold. At the time I didn’t think through the fact that these would not pick up the color. I was just trying to use it all up.

While my avocado bars (below)are not as pretty as the bars in the book (left) due to operator error, I saved the batch and felt empowered when I was able to solve my own problem using “Soap Crafting” as a reference. And that’s the mark of a great book – one that equips readers to troubleshoot and be self-sufficient in a pinch. LOVE that!

I also appreciate the fact that the book was written by a soap maker and owner of a soap supply business because readers can easily order all the supplies they need to make any of the recipes in the book from Bramble Berry and avoid the time-consuming hunt for oils, colorants and other ingredients. This is genius marking on Anne-Marie’s part and simultaneously beneficial to her customers who benefit from knowing that she and her staff have tested out all the supplies they sell. They can’t prevent operator error (ahem), but they can set us up with what we need to have the best chance of success. : )

And while you don’t need a Soap Queen soap mold to make soap, I was thrilled to try Anne-Marie’s wooden molds with silicone liners. They make the process seem all the more official and it feels pretty darn good to graduate from the shoebox phase of soap making.

While I’m using “Soap Crafting” as a reference for making soap to use at home and gift to others, this book is a great resource for those who have aspirations to pursue it as a business. (For best results, start with the basic recipes and work your way through to the marbled and swirled varieties.) From the first batch to the next 100, this book, featuring more than 30 recipes and supporting tutorials, is one to keep on the shelf. It explains all the things that rookies need to know while still inspiring more confident veteran soap makers.

High five, Anne-Marie! You nailed it. : )

UPDATE: WE HAVE A WINNER! Congrats to Mariah who won the random drawing for a copy of “Soap Crafting.” Enter to Win Anne-Marie’s Book! The folks at Storey Publishing are giving me a copy of “Soap Crafting” to give away to a lucky CraftSanity reader. Leave a comment below by Monday Sept. 9, 2013 to get into the drawing. A winner will be randomly selected and announced Sept. 10. Good luck, everyone!

Visit the Oil and Butter blog to read another reviewer’s take on Anne-Marie’s book and see some more book photos.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go slice my latest batch of soap into bars. : )

green soap

Where to Buy: CraftSanity Magazine Issue 9


In case you haven’t heard, CraftSanity Magazine Issue 9 is out and available at several independent newsstands and craft shops. Please see the list below to check for a store near  you. (It’s not a bad idea to call ahead to reserve your copy.) If you don’t live in a place where you can buy the magazine in person, you’re invited to order online or download this issue instantly from the left side bar of this site.

Country Needleworks, 584 Chicago Dr. Jenison, MI, (616) 457 9410.

A Grand Skein, 2431 Eastern Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, 551-1322

* Inspirations of Art Studio, 6504 28th Street SE, Suite C, Grand Rapids, (616) 432 3069

Minty Keen, (a vintage and handmade shop) 125 Ottawa NW Suite 170, in Grand Rapids, (616) 551-1613

Schuler Books & Music
- 3165 Alpine Avenue Northwest, Walker – (616) 647-0999
- 2660 28th Street Southeast, Kentwood -(616) 942-2561
- 1982 Grand River Ave., Okemos, MI 48864
- 2820 Towne Center Blvd., Lansing, MI 48912

Threadbender Yarn Shop, 2767 44th Street SW, Wyoming, MI, (616) 531-6641

On the Lakeshore:

Reader’s World194 S. River Ave., Holland, MI, (616) 396-8548


* Colors 91711, 248 Harvard Avenue, Claremont CA 91711, 909-624-6161.

Stock CraftSanity: If you’re interested in stocking CraftSanity Magazine in your shop, contact me and I’ll hook you up.

Thanks to the shops and readers who continue to support the magazine. It’s my pleasure to get to do this creative work. Thank you so much!

CraftSanity Magazine Issue 9 Preorder Preview Sale


At long last, the CraftSanity Magazine Issue 9 Preorder Sale is on! Preorder your copy by Monday (6/24/13) and save a dollar off the cover price! I’m expecting the magazines back from the printer by Tuesday. The PDF edition will be available as an instant download from this site next week  for $6.

You can also sign up for a CraftSanity Magazine subscription and have the next 4 issues automatically mailed to your home.

Inside Issue 9 you will find an exciting variety of projects sure to inspire a creative summer of activity. Here are the highlights: 



This issue contains a collection of stories about printmaking, a Q&A with Grand Rapids printmaker Alynn Guerra and tutorials on carving your own blocks and making your own press. Read the articles then join my print swap! (I’ll be posting more details on that soon!)



*Ingrid Dudek shares the story behind her lovely handknit and felted slippers. (I made the pair above using her pattern and they are my new favorite slippers. They’re felted to fit my feet just right and a delight to slip into on cool mornings.)

* In a rare interview, designer Lynne Barr, shares her story and the Stacked Necklace pattern from her new knitting book, “The Shape of Knitting.” This is a great book for knitters who want to push beyond the basics to see what’s possible and have some great knitting adventures.


*Extreme quilter, Deborah Haltiwanger, tells us how she hand stitched a king-sized quilt out of quarter inch hexagons and then I show you how to make a pendent using 15 tiny hexagons

Craft Blogger Melissa Haworth shows us how to make a collaborative mystery quilt and invites readers to collaborate with her.


I keep the random quilting theme going with a tutorial to make a freestyle flower quilt like the one I made for my daughter Amelia.


Read a Q&A with designer Ryan Hollist and then sample his Switchback Scarf pattern excerpted from “Crochet One-Skein Wonders” edited by Judith Durant  & Edie Eckman.

Crochet a striped teapot cozy by designer Alessandra Hayden. (These are kind of addictive. I’ve already made two. : )


The fun cover craft story is about sewing monster party favors for guests to adopt and take home from the next kid party you host. This is fun and so much better than buying plastic party favors that end up in the trash.


In this issue we’re featuring a Q&A with Sherri Brooks Vinton, author of “Put ‘em Up! A Preserving Guide & Cookbook” and give you a chance to sample two recipes from the book: apple and pear sauce and another to make potato and cheese pierogi. (You serve the pierogis with the homemade sauce and it tastes awesome.)

I also included three family favorite recipes for chewy chocolate granola bars, holy guacamole and bruschetta. You gotta try these, folks!


This issue includes a story about Laura Zander, co-owner of Jimmy Beans Wool and author of “Knit Red” and “Sew Red” compilation books that include knitting and sewing projects from top designers and great information to raise awareness about heart disease in women and funds for The Heart Truth Campaign. This feature includes a Mini Red Dress knitting pattern designed by Loretta Dachman for “Knit Red.”

IMG_6705 Other projects include:

- a fun handwritten font designed by Rebecca Green to embroider 

- my tutorial on how to make a portable watercolor paint set

- a story about gardening with cinder blocks

As you can see, I packed a lot into this issue and I really hope you enjoy it. I’m off to address envelopes for my lovely subscribers and continue work on issue 10 due out this fall. Let me know if you have story, project or recipe suggestions for upcoming issues as I’m always looking for new inspiration.

Thank you for your continued support. I wish you all the best handmade summer ever!

***A special thanks to the Fulton Street Artisans Market for sponsoring this issues of the magazine. I really appreciate your support!

Remembering Kathreen

kathreen-ricketson-353-300x0I don’t usually listen to my old podcasts, but today I listened to episode 19 an interview I recorded in 2006 with Kathreen Ricketson, the creator, author and mother of two. Back then our kids were little and we talked about motherhood and crafting and the adventures she had before she become a mom. I still can’t believe she’s gone.

As many of you have heard by now, the craft world lost a major force last week when Kathreen, 41,  and her husband, Robert Shugg, 48, died while visiting a beach located south of Coral Bay. They were traveling around Australia and Kathreen was writing a book about their grand adventure. News reports are linking Kathreen’s death to possible contact with a deadly jellyfish. Robert is still missing. It’s  surreal to hear that their adventure ended this way. 

Kathreen and Robert are survived by their 13-year-old daughter, Otilija and 10-year-old son, Orlando. And the craft community is doing what it can to support the children during this time of unbelievable sadness. The details of how you can help can be found here.

Read more »

Hello Again.


I’m popping in to let you all know that I’m working on CraftSanity Issue 9 and will be headed to the printer soon. My sincere apologies for the delay. I LOVE working on the magazine and I’ve been twitching for months due to all the interruptions.

When I agreed to take on a job advising the student newspaper and teaching the accompanying journalism courses at the local community college last summer, I knew it would be a lot of work for very little pay. And I did it anyway. Why? I’m attracted to challenging situations and wanted to try to make a difference for the next generation of journalists. I think I helped a few.

What I didn’t know was that the job would simultaneously inspire and frustrate me, break my heart, consume most of my time and derail all my independent projects and business plans. Thankfully, I didn’t let it disrupt my family life.

I have a lot to offer in a college setting, but I have no desire to be a career adjunct – overworked and underpaid with no benefits or a standing invitation to graduation. (I didn’t have a ticket and was almost turned away when I went to watch my students graduate this year.) I wrote a proposal outlining the conditions under which I can continue to advise and time will tell what happens next. So my future as an educator is most uncertain. And I’m okay with that. If things are meant to be, they will work out. And I have a feeling there will always be challenging situations for me to dive into and try to make a difference. Those are endless, right?

I never plan to take time off blogging or podcasting or loom making or publishing. I just keep working. All the time. I finish one project and immediately begin the next. And most of the time my projects overlap leaving little time for public blog commentary. These days I document my joy most often on Instagram because it’s fast and easy and feeds my compulsion to take photos daily.


And now for a loom update… I have been overwhelmed with loom requests. Production slowed when my frame maker and I were both recruited for teaching jobs. I picked up more frames from him this week and will be restocking my shop as soon as I finish work on Issue 9. I’m very sorry that I have not been able to respond to every loom request.

This slowdown has inspired me to dust off a non-profit idea I’ve had for many years. I can no longer pound in every peg myself and I would love to spin CraftSanity Looms off into a self-sustaining community enterprise that employees developmentally disabled adults. I was inspired by a group of people I met while reporting a story for my newspaper column and I think the time has come to finally figure out how to write a grant, secure space and assemble a team. I don’t know the first thing any of this which makes it all the more exciting. Please contact me if you have any advice to share. I have a lot to learn. I will have time to discuss this further in about three weeks. :  )


My only regret about this latest blog hiatus is that I haven’t properly documented many great moments that I’ve shared with my family during the last several months.

*Abby’s first Girls on the Run 5K
*The Gazelle Girl Half Marathon
*Our family gardening project
*A collaborative quilt project that I’m working on with my sisters

But it’s all there on Instagram if you’re interested. Now I have to get back to work on CraftSanity Issue 9. There’s still room to advertise if any of you are interested. Ad rates can be found here.

Have a great day, folks!

A Love Story


Love. This print marks the beginning of what is shaping up to be a fantastic creative adventure. It all started when my 7-year-old daughter, Amelia, got hooked on printmaking at a free workshop in 2012. When I saw her happily making prints on an old book press, I knew it was time to finally surrender to the urge I’ve felt for many years to try to make my own.

On Christmas Eve Amelia received a little blue press as a present from my father. It was made of scrap wood and pieces of the old cupbards from my parents’ kitchen and Amelia loved it and told my father on the spot. I think I loved it just as much.

On Christmas Day, Amelia drew this “Love” design on a piece of paper and asked me to carve her drawing into a block. I was happy, too – ecstatic, actually.

We started making prints as soon as the carving was done and I think we both knew immediately that this is just the beginning of something wonderful. Amelia has made many practice prints with her little blue press, and now we’re going to send a little bit of love out into the world and see what happens next.

Today, Amelia, her big sister, Abby, and I will be demonstrating some basic printmaking techniques on WZZM Channel 13′s “Take Five” morning show.

*** Magazine Update: There will be printmaking in the forthcoming spring issue of CraftSanity Magazine!

Stars Over The Thornapple Quilt Show

The Stars Over The Thornapple Quilt Show is going on this weekend at the Barry County Expo Center near Hastings, Michigan. The show opened Saturday and will be open Sunday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

The show is bigger than it was two years ago and features a fun variety of quilts and vendor booths. Thornapple River Rippers Quilt Guild members (from left) Rebecca Lydy, Kathy Dunn, Caroline Moffit and Vickie Ward, joined forces to piece the lovely raffle quilt behind them. You can read a column I wrote about another one of their guild members here.

Here’s a preview of some of the other quilts on display at the show:

Beverly Jones pieced this quilt by hand using 3/4″ hexagons. “It took several years… my “forever” quilt.” It was quilted by Agnes Oberth.


Detail of an appliquéd bird quilt by the late Carrie Honeman.

Detail of an appliquéd bird quilt by the late Carrie Honeman.

This memorial quilt was appliquéd by Carrie Honeman, pieced by Laraine Facca and quilted by Bonnie Rhoby. The pattern was designed by Elizabeth Root.

This memorial quilt was appliquéd by Carrie Honeman, pieced by Laraine Facca and quilted by Bonnie Rhoby. The pattern was designed by Elizabeth Root.

Beverly Jones paper pieced this quilt using Civil War reproduction fabrics.

Beverly Jones paper pieced this quilt using Civil War reproduction fabrics.

In addition to checking out the quilts, I chatted with many interesting vendors at the show and spent some quality time talking to Mike Lydy and his daughter, Brandi Melkild, about the handmade quilting accessories that Mike makes in his wood shop. 

I bought a nice big, quilter's ironing board from Hastings Wood Worker Mike Lydy.

I bought a nice big, quilter’s ironing board from Hastings Wood Worker Mike Lydy. After I make some more quilts, I’ll have to put in an order for one of his quilt ladders.

I also stumbled upon a very sweet quilt story that I’m writing up for next Sunday’s column. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, go check out the show if you live close enough to pop over.

Scribble Drawings Forever


Back in elementary school a wonderful teacher showed my class how to make scribbles into art. I can’t remember if the original demo involved a black marker or crayon, but what I do remember is watching that black line loop-d-loop all over the page and feeling so empowered as a little girl with with a box of crayons.

I was small but I could scribble.


Three decades later, the scribble drawing remains my all-time favorite thing to draw and color. You can read my column about how my kids have inspired me to keep on scribbling here.

Now I hope you’re inspired to get out your crayons and make a scribble drawing of your own. Scribble drawings forever!