Archive for the ‘About Town’ Category

Looking forward to some sewing…

The Helena May Bazaar is over and I’ve put my knotting cord away for a wee bit.  Mostly  to give my hands a break and also to go onto some other projects that I’ve been wanting to do.  The Bazaar was actually really good and I am very glad that I did it.  Unfortunately, I do not think that my product is well received in Hong Kong because there is so much Chinese knotted items available in the markets here and in Shenzhen.   That “specialness” factor just is not present.  That said, Whole TableI think our table looked good, I think we had a great mix of product and colors and who could be two more personable and approachable women!  We had a great spot in the Blue Room right in front of this huge window with great light.  One thing  I did take away from the bazaar is that my passion lies in creating and teaching and this is where I am going to concentrate my efforts.

The next event of this type that I will be attending will be the end of November in New Zealand.  The winery just down the road a ways from our house holds a yearly charity fair called A Country Occasion at Neudorf.  In NZ, the Chinese Knot items will be new and different.   In addition to the sales part of the fair, I am going to generate interest in holding classes there on a regular basis.  What better excuse to make a trip!

Remember my “humbling” skirt from a couple weeks back…?  Well, it has been deconstructed and reconstructed and now fits me like a dream.  What a giggle I have had over that one.  I smiled to myself the entire time I was ripping seams.  Lessons I’ve learned from that experience….too many to list.  However, the most impactful is to always remember that you are never too good at something to make a huge mistake!

The project I have cut out and on the table now is a pair of wide leg linen pants where I am going to clean finish the side seams from knee down to hem and use self-fabric Chinese Button Knots as closures.  I’ll post a picture as soon as they are complete.

People have been asking me about Feng Shui lately and I thought it would be a good topic for these pages.  I am by no means a Feng Shui Master.  What I know of Feng Shui comes to me primarily intuitively and through reading that I have done.  I have used Feng Shui principles in all the homes I have lived in since my initial move to Asia and all offices that I have worked in.  The one comment that I get from most is that the spaces I create are always comfortable and inviting.

I am sure that most people are aware of Feng Shui and its principles; however, for those of you who are not…  Feng Shui is simply how chi (or energy) flows between the levels of heaven, earth and humans.  It is this chi that makes something feel “good” or “bad”.  Negative energy (or chi that is blocked or stagnant) is called sha chi.  What keeps the energy moving between the three levels is the constant movement between two opposing forces – yin and yang.  Earth chi also has five elements of earth, wood, fire, metal and water.

Have you ever walked into a room and absolutely loved it or felt incredibly comfortable?  How about the opposite when you felt very uncomfortable, agitated or even anxious about being in a room?    If you have, then you have experienced Feng Shui.  This is where I always start with a room – the feeling.  Is it warm and inviting, cold and off-putting, kind of okay but needs something?  What is the view from the windows and is the light coming in good?  From this point, you can make decisions about what needs to be done.  If the room is not inviting, look at the colors and furnishings.  Maybe some warmer, softer colors or some softer furniture with pillows.   Even the position of the furniture has an impact on the overall feel.  Your furniture should always “welcome” you into a room meaning that you should be able to walk right up to it and sit down.  Maybe the decorations in the room are not right.  Remember, that too much of a good thing can have a bad effect as well.  If you have an already inviting room, you can make it too much so where it turns into a space where no one wants to leave (when you really want to end the evening) or it is so relaxing that you always fall asleep. 

So start with assessing a room, determine what the “feeling” is in the room.  Identify items in the room that either enhance or detract from the overall feeling.  Also, know what the room is intended for (i.e. socializing, sleeping, relaxing, etc.).  The furnishings should be appropriate for the function.  For example, it can create  negative energy to have a piece of exercise equipment (that keeps you moving) in a bedroom where you are trying to rest. 

Next week, I’ll talk about color and Feng Shui.

I’m going to go and do some sewing!  Take care everyone…


I’ll be back next week…

Just wanted to let everyone know that I’m taking a week off from the blog due to a whole pile of work needing to be done.  I have the Helena May Bazaar next week and, of courese, have not done as much as I had hoped by this time.  I finally realized how much still needs doing and how much time it actually takes…Yikes!!!  I’m spending all spare minutes knotting up items for the bazaar.  Spending so much time on knotting makes me want to do some sewing as well.  I would like to make a few of my Chinese brocade bags to see if there is interest in these; however, this is at the end of the list.

Here is a preview of some of the things I will have on sale…

Sale Item Examples for Blog

…and hopefully a lot more!

And just to refresh your memory about the bag…

Red Bag on Spirit House

The Baubles & Knots gathering on Monday was wonderful.  Everyone had great projects that they worked on.  Good company, good food, good conversation…what more could you ask for!

I’ve been hearing from a lot of women as of late saying they are incredibly busy at the moment.  Is it the time of year, alignment of the planets or just life?  Whatever it may be, I hope everyone is finding  joy and fulfillment in their “busy-ness”. 

Have a great week everyone…

And Spencer makes six…

David and I are always first in line when a cat or kitten is in need and Spencer is just one of those kittens.  Our pet store called a week ago Friday saying that the breeder had handed over another wee creature that was less than perfect and needed to find a home.  We went in to see him and instantly fell in love.  After the cage was opened, he looked up at us and started purring.  As soon as I had him in my arms, he started nuzzling into my neck.   He certainly was starved for attention and was setting out to get it from whomever came close.  Our policy with the pet store is if we fall in love with a new kitten (the negative of this has yet to happen!), it needs to be checked by our vet first to ensure that we would not be bringing an infectious disease into our home.  Spencer was given the OK to come home on Wednesday but to make sure, he needs to be quarantined from the rest of the family for 10 days.  We’re on day 5 and he is getting anxious to be release from his confinement.  There has been a lot of meowing through doors and exchange of paw touching under doors.  Everyone is ready to meet the new addition to the family.

20 Sept 09 - Use as Intro in BlogSpencer is partially blind in one eye from, what the vet is assuming , was a trauma either during or shortly after birth.  He is certainly a lucky wee boy for the breeder to have kept him around as long as this.  His personality and temperment is amazing.  All he wants to do is purr, be held, and sleep.  He is a persian mix with possibly some ragdoll in him.  Normal cats sleep about 18 hours a day; with his DNA, it is going to be difficult to wake him up for meals!  He is going to be a very, very large adult cat.  Already at 6 months, he is big for his age and his paws are a sure sign that he will be growing a lot more. 

So, I’ve been a bit pre-occuplied for the past few days!

The Knot Lessons page has been expanded with more outlines and photos.  Classes for this week are already starting to be booked so if you are interested in the Knot and Beaded Dangle Necklace project on Wednesday or to learn the Celtic knots on Friday, send me an e-mail as soon as possible.

The first Sewing Basics class at the YWCA was this past Thursday and it was a huge success…well, to me anyway!  I hope the class participants enjoyed themselves and from the comments I received both at the class and since, I think they did.  All the sewing classes are full.  I spoke with the Program Coordinator at the Y and if someone has their own sewing machine and if they have either taken Sewing Basics from me or have equivalent knowledge, we will be able to open up the Intro to Sewing class and allow more people to attend.  For the Sewing Basics, because of the way I’m teaching the class, it would be incredibly difficult to have more than two models of machines to use in demonstrations so this class, unfortunately, has to stay limited until the Y has the the budget to get more machines.

Mark your calendar…the next Baubles & Knots gathering will be Monday, 5 October.  An e-mail will be sent soon as a reminder and RSVP.

Another event to make note of is the Helena May Charity Bazaar coming up on Thursday, 15 October, 9:30am to 6pm.  Jamila and I will have a table there to promote our classes and sell a few items.  Do stop by and see us…we’ll be in the Blue Room.

I’m glad the rain has come today and knocked a few degrees off the temperature.  Stay dry, stay cool and enjoy your week…

Miss me?

Apologies for my silence last week.  Taking the week off from the blog allowed me to concentrate on a few other things and bring them to completion. 

Prep for Knotting BasicsChinese Knot Basics should have started today at the Y, unfortunately, we had a typhoon roll through the area last night and the signal 8 was still hoisted at the start time of my class.  Luckily, it is a multi-session class so we’ll just start from next week and hopefully be able to add an additional class on to the end.  I have been putting together my teaching guide, knot samples, gathering up bits and pieces that I’ll need in class, cord and supply kits.  I spent a couple hours yesterday, getting it all layed out and my bags packed and there they sit.  So, I guess I’m all ready for next week!

Prep for Sewing BasicsSewing Basics at the Y starts this Thursday.  This is a full day session.  Because of the popularity of the sewing classes, I have worked with the Y and we have added two additional classes each for the Sewing Basics and Intro to Sewing.  One of each is in the evening by request from members.  My teachers guide turned out to be quite the weighty document.  I have pulled together a curriculum taking the student from turning on the sewing machine to making sample seams to being able to identify a few basics fabrics.  I have gathered sewn samples, useful magazine articles from the internet and lots of fabric samples to share. 

DSCN0474And at the end of the Sewing Basics class, I hope there is time left so the students can use what they have learned throughout the day and make this very useful shoulder bag.  The project is supposed to be a secret though, so shhhhh, don’t tell!


Have a look at the Knot Lessons and Sewing Lessons pages…they’ve been updated!  I have put all of the Y sewing classes here for your ease and if you are interested, contact them directly.  You will also find a lot of private knotting classes that I want to do this Autumn.  I have spent a lot of time thinking about how I can keep those knotters who are just as good as I am satisfied with new and fun projects.  I hope that I have come up with some interesting topics.   For the moment, only a class title is given; outlines and photos will follow soon.

It was our anniversary a couple weeks back (28 years!) and my adorable husband surprised me with a long weekend in Bangkok.  It certainly did not take any arm twisting to get me headed to the airport!  My friends took me to the Jim Thompson fabric close-out store years ago.  I had forgotten where it was and the last time we were there in June, the hotel called Jim Thompson’s and, of course, they said that no such place existed.  Right!  When I was in NZ in July, I emptied out my travel cupboard in the library and did not budge until I found the card with the address for the store.  And lucky me…its still there!

We spent close to 2 hours walking around all the floor to ceiling racks on 3 floors touching nearly every fabric.  There were cottons, silks, blends, prints, garment fabric, upholstery fabric…absolutely everything you could ever want.  David appreciates all things beautiful so he was just as taken by all of the amazing fabrics that were there as I was.  I found two fabrics that I just had to have…this time!

JT Linen Silk for Over CoatThis is a linen silk blend and while I was going through the 1970’s edition of my Simplicity sewing book, I found this silhouette.  This is exactly what I had in mind for this fabric.  I’ll have to go to their website and see if they still have the pattern for it!

Silk Taffeta Plaid

This is a silk taffeta.  It is really difficult to get a good picture of a taffeta because of the way the light reflects.  The colors in this photo do not do the fabric justice.  This was one of those “I’ve got to have it because the fabric is amazing and I’ll figure out what to do with it later” purchases.  Actually, David was the one who spotted this one and said that I needed to have it.  Gotta love a guy that tells you to buy fabric for the heck of it.

Well, I need to go now and brave the wind and rain that is still coming down.  The Y took delivery of their sewing machines for the sewing classes on Monday and I, ummm,  must learn how to use them before I try to teach students how to use them!

Have a great week everyone and for those of you in HK, it would be a good week to do indoor activities!

Nothing makes me happier…

Than spending time around fabric!  I started my day today in Shenzhen at the fabric mart on the 5th floor of LoWo Commercial City.   It’s really dangerous to turn me loose in a place like that.  I walk around and touch every fabric that catches my eye.  There are so many beautiful fabrics.  I was looking for my drapy linen and found it…in two colors no less!   And then there were the impulse buys.

Green Purple distored building printBesides being incredible colors, this fabric reminded me of a Monet painting.  It is cotton/silk so has a beautiful hand and drape.




Primary Color StripeAnd then there is this primary color stripe.  The vibrancy of the stripes is great and the color hues they matched together are perfect.  I can see a summer dress made out of this or a nice tunic and skirt.


 Fortunately common sense prevailed and I got myself out of there before I needed to buy a suitcase to pack home all of my yard goods.  The way I figure, if I leave some fabric for next time, it gives me a reason to go back and find other surprises lurking in those tightly packed stalls!

I was up at the YWCA yesterday and got a picture of the table runner.

Table Runner

The reason I was at the Y yesterday was to talk about the sewing classes.  I knew people were interested in sewing, however, the number of people interested has taken me by surprise.  The first two courses are full and have been for nearly a week!  We have added more day courses and, for those who work, have added evening sessions.  We are in the process of formalizing the new dates.  There are people already on the waiting list for the new classes so if you, or someone you know, is interested, have them call the Y immediately and get their name on the waiting list.  If the next classes follow suit of the first, they will be full nearly as soon as they go on-line.

Last Friday was our first gathering of Baubles and Knots.  Great group of people and we all had a joyous time talking and catching up.  I finished a shell pearl necklace which I thoroughly love.

DSCN0451These are large pill shape pearls in the colors of brown, bronze and dark green.  They go perfectly with so many things that I have. 




Because of a scheduling conflict, the next meeting of Baubles and Knots will be changed from 30 September to 5 October.  The B&K page has been updated and an e-mail will be sent a week prior.  But why not mark your calendar now!

I’m nearly feeling like I am getting on top of my To Do list.  I finished the Sewing Basics curriculum last weekend and it turned out to be quite a weighty document.  I’m in the process of creating the Intro to Sewing curriculum.  Fortunately, I have all of the Knotting Basics information complete so have put knotting on the back burner for the moment. 

But not too far back!  I have come up with a list of private classes that I’d like to offer this autumn.  I have attempted to come up with some new projects and concepts for the experienced knotters as well as basic classes for the beginners.   I am nearly ready to publish the class list; however, I’m going to wait a few more days  to make sure that I don’t over extend myself.  So stay tuned.  As soon as I have classes organized, I’ll send you all an e-mail so you can see what interests.

Time to go and do some more paper shuffling at my desk!  Have a great week everyone!

Papers and computer files

Well, I don’t have much to show for my week other than a pile of papers sitting on my desk and a whole lot of new computer files.  I have been busily working on the curriculum for the Autumn sewing classes.  I’m finished with the Sewing Basics and am pleased with the way it turned out.  The Intro to Sewing class is going to be fun; lots of terms, techniques and skills will be learned. 

The process of setting up these sewing classes has been good for me.  I have been sewing for so long that there are many things that I don’t think about any more, do automatically or take for granted.  In attempting to give a complete from A to Z introduction into the world of sewing, I have had to stop and really think about everything that I do right down to how to turn a corner before pressing it.  It is always good to go back and be a student even if it is with a subject that you know well. 

I was in NZ this past week and in the month since I was last there, the weather has warmed and Spring has started happening.Daffodils

These daffodils are all grouped together in one area and when they bloom it is stunning.  I saved these bulbs from a friends yard years ago.  He could not see the benefit in flowers and the only thing he wanted growing in his yard was a tree and some grass.  I was successful in getting him to leave these bulbs alone until it was the right time of year to dig them out.  They are beautiful delicate little things; I’m glad I saved them!Camelia

This camelia has more blooms on it this year than its combined total since I put it in. 

Some plants love hard, cold winters and with the one we just had in NZ, the plants are going to be in rare form this year.  All of the camelias are gorgeous and the rhododendrons have more buds on them than I’ve seen. 



I have a group class on Wednesday to make knotted bookmarks.  Friday is the first gathering of the Baubles & Knots group at Jamila’s.  I have penned together private knotting classes for the Autumn and will have the schedule with me on Friday if anyone is interested in seeing what is up coming.

And with that…I’m off to do more planning for classes.  Have a great week everyone and I’m looking forward to seeing some of you on Friday!

Sometimes you can be just too busy…

I just realized that the past 2 weeks posts have had the theme of simplicity.  Funny that.  Starting a new business has thrown me into the thick of getting everything ready.  And me having perfectionist tendencies, I cannot do things only good enough.  No, I need to go above and beyond.   But, I would have it no other way.  I have been spending nearly every waking hour working on my businesses of knotting and sewing; planning, organizing, gathering information, writing class curriculum, getting handouts and show-and-tell items ready, etc.  And then there are the classes that I have started teaching.  Don’t get me wrong, it is all very fun and exciting and I am thrilled with what I am doing; however, time does have a way of slipping away without me realizing it. 

This past week, as I was working on new knot samples and getting a couple sewing projects completed, I glanced at the counter in my craft room and noticed a plastic bin sitting there nearly buried by everything that I had on top of it and gathering dust.  It is the bin that I keep my pearls in.  All the lovely pearls that I have gotten over the past few months  are in this bin, carefully labeled and some with design idea sketches.  I stopped what I was doing,  put the bin on the table and emptied it out.  I had forgotten about some of the pearl in that bin.

 I set aside one project that I have wanted to do since I first learned pearl stringing and, I believe, were the first pearls that I purchasedConcept.  This is going to be a four strand necklace with “stripes” of white pearls.  The main body of the necklace will be maroon.  I am thinking that 5 stripes will give good balance.  I finally have a board large enough to lay this out .






Pearl StringsThen there are these strings of the most amazing soft olive green chevron drilled sticks.  I am going to pair these pearls with knots.







Pearl StringAnd finally this string of gold and bronze round pearls.  The iridescence on this string is incredible.  The pearls are so beautiful that simplicity is key in this necklace.  Straight forward pearl knotting is all that I’m going to do with a nice gold clasp. 


I have promised myself that within everything else, I do need to take time for me and the other things that I enjoy doing.  I am going to do one project a week that is just for me.  Whether it is pearl stringing, cooking or making a dress that does not have the intention of being a project for a class.  We all need to maintain ourselves within the busy lives that we live.  We must never forget to connect to our essence and what makes our soul sing.  Simplicity in life, getting back to basics, taking care of oneself…whatever you want to call it, we all need to take time to do it.

I have all of my class displays at the YWCA complete now.  I finished the table runner and took it up on Friday.  The space that I claimed for this display is not all that large and I was having trouble packing the runner in there, but finally made it look nice.  I was happy with my display, locked the cabinet and then headed down to Central.  Halfway down the hill, a thought stuck me…I forgot to take a photo of the runner.  Silly me.  So, you’ll just have to take my word for it that it looks really great…or take a trip up to the Y and have a look.  Just so I can give you some idea of what I’ve been working on, I mocked up a runner with the extra fabric that I had.Fabric Mock-Up

I used an off-white Chinese brocade fabric with a delicate gold embroidery for the center panel and then this gold knobby silk for the sides and back.  I then tied up a Chinese knot combination for the center with a tassel at each end.  

This past week, I found myself in Sheung Wan with a bit of extra time so allowed myself the luxury of going to one of my favorite “clothing outlet” stores to do a bit of “bin diving”.  This store has bins out front that has everything that they want to get rid of.  They have three bins that are marked HK$5, HK$10 and HK$20.  The vast majority of what is in these bins is hideous; however, I have found a few jems…a Liz Claibourne unlined jacket, a Ralph Lauren pair of linen pants.  So, it pays to do a bit of digging.  I was in the $20 bin and found this brown fabric poking out from the bottom.  I gave a tug and out came a dress.  I held it up and granted it did not have great “hanger appeal” but there was something about it that struck me.  The neckline was quite wide and the overly large collar was cut on the cross grain.  There was no size tag so I did a quick assessment of it and me and decided that it was probably about the right size.  And for HK$20, I really did not have to worry about breaking the bank.  When I got it home, I put it straight into the washing machine to release it of all the HK grime that it collected and get the massive wrinkles relaxed out of it. 

Full DressWhen I put it on, I was amazed at how it looked.  The neckline is fabulous; very wide with the back collar standing up.  The style is great too.  The only thing, the color is just not me.  That milk chocolate color and me just do not get along well. 

Having remembered that there were other dresses the same in the bin, I made a second trip to Sheung Wan and found the exact same size dress.  So now I am the proud owner of two of the same size dresses.  Why you ask?  Well, one is going to be used for a pattern.  At HK$20, I cannot purchase a Neck Viewpaper pattern so I am going to use the second dress as a pattern.   Having the luxury of taking a garment apart and have your pattern pieces there is much easier than taking a pattern from a completed garment.  The first thing I did was mark each individual fabric piece with an identifying name.  This will allow me to match up left and right side pattern pieces to see if they are the same or if they are unique.  Next, its out with the seam ripper and a few hours of very tedious seam ripping.  Every stitch needs to come out to get the dressDSCN0431 back to the point at which it started its life…just a pile of cut fabric pieces.  I’ll keep my progress with this project on the blog so you can follow along.

Happy week everyone!