Absent but not gone…

The past few weeks have been filled with finishing up the majority of my classes for the year, assisting in the final sale of a business overseas, getting ready for a charity fair in New Zealand, and trying to have enough time left over for me.   And in all honesty, I have not been doing anything new and interesting to share.  Life definitely has not been dull but it has been more routine than creative.  With the activity on the blog as of late, I wanted to let you know what I’ve been up to and that I’ll be back to you soon.  I’ll be return to a more even routine the week of 7 December.


In Memory of Spencer

Close Up on Futon 20 Oct09

Animal lovers will understand…one of the most difficult things in life to do is come home from the vet with an empty pet carrier.  We lost Spencer yesterday very suddently.  His absence is being greatly felt within our home.  He was an amazing wee creature full of love and happiness despite the difficult start he had in life and all of the medical situations he was dealing with.  We feel blessed to have had him in our lives…if only for a few short weeks.


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…

Ahhh, to be humbled

Apologies for the delay in this weeks post…I’ve just been way busy teaching.  I’m having an absolute blast with this.  The sewing classes are just amazing.  I have been sewing for decades and never thought about sharing the knowledge I have.  I am finding so many women out there (and one man!) who are  eager for the information and chance to sit behind a sewing machine and see what it is all about.  This terms knotting classes are also going really well.   I’m challenging the women with some pretty complicated knots and we are moving through quite a few in each session and they are all doing fantastic!

Well, I had a humbling sewing episode this past week hence the name of this weeks post.  I  found some cute lavendar/brown/white print cotton and had a length of it in my fabric bin.  Last Sunday, I had a bit of free time on my hands and decided to “whip something up” to wear to my sewing class on DSCN0547Monday.  This fabric matched perfectly with a pattern I have for a very simple skirt with a flare from the knee to hem.  Operative word here is “simple”…so much so that I did not even unfold the instructions.  Just cut the fabric and got right into it.  After the zip was set, I did a fit trial and adjusted a few seams.  I then finished off the waist, turned  the hem and did a final pressing.  To further admire the excellent job I had done, I went in the dressing room to try the skirt on and it nearly slipped down over my hips!  Horror of horrors…what had I done!!!  It fit perfectly before the waist facing and then…ahhh!  Now I got out the instructions and located the waist section and it said “To ensure that the wasit does not stretch, add seam tape…”.  Right…  Because of the way the pattern was laid up on the fabric, the waist area is on a bit of a bias and does have quite a bit of stretch.  So, now it is out with the seam ripper to remove the top stitching, waist facing, and zipper.  I need to overlock the waist seam to secure the raw edge so I can then give the skirt another soak and tumble in the dryer to take the stretch back out of the fabric, another fit and THEN the use of seam tape when I reapply the waist facing. 

I was just a wee bit too sure of myself when doing this skirt.  I hardly even had my mind on what I was doing because it was so simple.  This is exactly the time when you make mistakes…like I did.  So, for all of you new sewers out there, have a wee chuckle over my “blond moment” and learn from my mistake so you do not have to make one of your own.  It is always a good idea to be completely connected to what you are doing regardless of how simple your project is.  It is the attention to detail that gives you a garment that you will be proud of…and does not take twice as long to finish as it should!!!

I have friends visiting HK this week from New Zealand.  They knew that I was teaching but I guess that I neglected to tell them exactly what I was DSCN0548teaching.  When they found out it was Chinese Knotting, they said  they have been reading about how important knotting is to the Chinese culture and the history that it has. They went on to say how amazing they thought it was that I actually learned this art and was able to teach it to others.  Wow, talk about feeling a bit proud.   I am having dinner with them tonight so thought I would knot something up for them to take home as a rememberence of their trip here and Chinese knotting. 

I dipped into my pearl bin again last week.  It seems that it is calling me more frequently as of late.  I knotted up a beautiful string of pearls that David got me at the jewelry show in June.  I simply put flattened gold spacers between the pearls.  It looks beautiful…he will be pleased!

I  have a few gifts to make for some very special women I know.   I had intended to string pearls  for them.  When I got everything out, I stopped because these women are fairly down to earth ladies and I thought they would think a string of solid pearls would be “far too good and fancy” to wear.  Can’t have that because as our Pearl Lady says, “Pearls have to be worn and see the light of day”.  Use in Blog I started playing around with different ideas and came up with this design.  It has a center knot.  You see, to justify spending time with my pearls, if I can work a knot into them somewhere, then it makes it okay!!  I thought this design is much more approachable and wearable…perfect for the women that I will be making these for. 

Just a few things to remember…

Monday, 5 October, Baubles & Knots gathering

Monday, 12 October, Knotting continuation course – Pan Changs

Thursday, 15 October, Helena May Bazaar

Monday, 19 October, Knotting continuation course – Double Coin Variations

Thursday, 22 October, Knotting Project course – Belts

Have a wonderful holiday weekend 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!