Artist, Designer, Maker, Seeker of Fun and Kindness
12 Days of Holidays Gift Giving Guide for Quilters, Sewers, and Crafty McCraftersons
Follow along and see what we’re up to during the 12 Days of Holidays. You’ll find that most photos have links to help you find what you’re for! This is a list of gift ideas as well as rambling thoughts from yours truly.Get ready. Let’s talk gifts for sewers and quilters.
You guys! It’s that time of year again when I email you to tell you stories, and showcase ideas for gift giving and receiving! I imagine that you could easily forward this email along to one of your best gift givers and they’d get the hint that you’d love this for yourself, or others, this holiday season.
To start Day One of 12 Days Of Holidays, I’m not gonna be too long winded. I imagine if artist Julia Rothman and Heather Givans (hey, that’s me, so weird) were real life friends, this Writer Celebration Kit would be their collaboration. Typewriters, clip boards, paper clips, and an assortment of papers, together they write and doodle and giggle and play. The Julia Rothman fabrics in this fat quarter bundle are from the archive and are in limited quantity. Welcome to day one of gift-giving idea funtime. ✏️📖📃📎
The top photo makes me giggle. I took it last week and I thought OH MY WORD. It looks like an Olan Mills photograph. Do they still exist? I kinda want to go get my holiday photos taken there. It’s probably too late for a profesh photo this year, huh? Bonus points if you got or are getting family portraits done. In all seriousness, it’s so special later in life to look back on those memories.
So, there are some interesting things happening in this box. Perhaps you’ve never heard of a Hummingbird Needle Threader? Or the line-up of bobbin holders, clamps and thread peels? These little buddies are a great way to keep your thread and bobbin organized. And we will send a cute little box to house it all in along with Crimson Tate tissue and fabric ribbon. Gift ready to be given!
Gertrude Turns 14 Today!
Ummmm. December 11 is a super special day. It’s the day at my house that we celebrate my teeny-tiny rat terrier Gertrude’s birthday. We’ve had Grandma Gertrude for a long time and quite honestly, she might be the most mild, sweetest dog ever. She has moved with me from Lafayette, IN to Duluth, MN, back to Indianapolis back to Duluth and then back to Indianapolis occupying two houses in the past 14 years. Shewwwww. That’s a lot to think about. It’s funny how we tell time.
Way back when dear friend Kristin Kohn opened a second location of Silver in the City in Lafayette, IN, I helped manage the store and played there for a few years where while my partner Jamie was working on her doctorate at Purdue University. Gertrude became FAMOUS as a puppy working and sleeping in the window. She was even showcased in a local magazine. Too-tee-dooo. So happiest of birthdays sweet Gertie. I always thought I’d have kids and as it turns out, this little girl became my heart. God I love her so much. (And Olive, too.) What a sweet reflection for the day. I’d love to see your little fur critters, too. Or your human ones.
Sending so much love from here.
Day 3 – Paintchip Basics
It’s day THREE! 12 Days of Holiday Gift Giving ideas is here. Today contains these beautiful FreeSpirit solids put into collections we call Paintchip Basics. Each color story is a range of value and intensity to inspire new color choices or to round out projects. Cherries Jubilee, Rayo de Sol, Grasshopper, Mermaid, Bluebird, Spirited Jacaranda, and Macaron are all value priced right now! The Pride – IYG pack is a fundraiser we do for Indiana Youth Group so the purchase of that little buddy is going good in our community so thank you for that. Let’s collect ‘em all!!
Image from colorfactory.co
While I was in Houston, TX at the International Quilt Market and Show this past October, I made time in my schedule to go to the newly open Color Factory in Houston. I always try, when I can, to involve some type of museum or local culture when I’m traveling around teaching and speaking at guilds. You. Guys. The Color Factory was so cool. If you have the chance, I highly recommend it. The exhibits I witnessed weren’t sophisticated but they were inspiring. I mean, COLOR, right?! And my takeaway was that the artist instillations were fascinating but what made it even more spectacular were the people. The employees were spirited and excited and thrilled to introduce you to all of the amazing color and wonder found within the space. My friends that I went with were excited and in awe. We came to the reality that, you got out of it what you put into it. I’ve held on to that lesson. And I love that the employees of Crimson Tate embody that same spirit. This has always been important to me. And that so many of you found your way to Crimson Tate because you see positivity and happiness as a daily practice. Some days it’s easier than others.
This year has been a big year of change in finding new ways of working and figuring out how to work differently. Crimson Tate, as you know, is always going in a gazillion directions. This is exactly how I work (oh yeah, I’m the architect of this ship). I’ve always gone in a lot of directions and I can remember being sad one time when someone called me a divergent thinker. I don’t know why that made me sad, but now, I embrace it and see it as one of my better qualities. I’ve organized my life so that I’m constantly going in a lot of directions from the workings of fabric store operations to creating fabric designs, coming up with and creating new patterns, wholesale opportunities, headband creations, blah blah. etc, I’m always moving. My perspective has been, even if I have to convince myself from time to time, that change encourages creativity. New ways of working and figuring out new methods for best practices can be exhausting but it also can allow for reflection, refinement, growth and it can encourage fresh perspectives if you allow it to. I’m all about self-reflection and awareness.
I see these Paintchip Boxes as a metaphor for this idea. Sometimes, you need a range of colors, opportunities, ways of working, to round out what you’re working on. And truth is, these boxes are super beautiful. It can be that simple. And our lives and purpose can be that simple, too. Thanks for being in the big old beautiful and diverse community together. We’re like living in one big Paintchip box. I like the idea of that.
xoxo and lots of love and more tomorrow, maybe not so rambley,
Day 4: Dresden Plate Ornament / Pin Cushion
It’s a two-fer!!! Is it a pin cushion? Is it an ornament? Pin cushion? Ornament? Either way, this dual purpose gift screams “I’m CRAFTY and FESTIVE.” That is a total win/win in my book.
Since it’s a two-fer I’m including these luxurious Bohin pins in the mix. We carry 12 different colors and it’s sure to please. With this pin cushion you can keep all the colors in rainbow order or if you’re a free spirit, you can stick ’em wherever you want.
I love how sharp Bohin needles are. That and they’re from France so they seem fancy just by the nature of their travels.
Happy Day 4 of 12 Days of Holidays!!! And thank you for all the emails I got yesterday concerning my rambling on Day 3. Sorry about the spelling errors but thanks for knowing and realizing what I was trying to get at. Someone please add “needs spell checker” to the list of next employees. 🙂
Two Years Ago
On this very weekend two years ago, I trekked up to Camp Tecumseh to take photographs of my soon to be announced Night Hike fabric collection. Inspired by summer camp, the night sky, the Aurora Borealis (the Northern lights) and a sweet little love letter to my Grandma Mac (Lois as many of you know her) in the form of boundary water lake maps, this collection is very personal to me. It’s hard to believe that the fabrics are almost gone. We only have three fat quarter bundles left. Shewwwwww. I can’t believe it.
That weekend was the coldest we’d had all season as it was single digit temperatures. We played outside pretended it was warm but we were FREEZING. I love looking back on these memories and spending that weekend with Jamie and my buddy Eric, who took the look book photographs. Here’s a photo montage of our tropical adventure.
Ummmm. Tomorrow should be AMAZING if Mr. FedEx comes through for us today. Catch you on Day 5!
Day 5 – Charley Harper!! OH BOY!
Day 5 brings us the most lovely fabric!!! Charley Harper Winter Wonderlandis here. I cannot believe it! This lil’ 8-piece collection is the sweetest. Screen printed on organic poplin, you’re gonna love the hand of this fabric. I’m so glad Nat the FedEx dude found this box. It was supposed to arrive earlier in the week and I’m so thrilled the time is now!!!
From cardinals to nuthatches to chipmunks to deer. There’s a lil’ woodland critter for us all. If you’re a birder, you gotta have this collection. We have made fat quarter, half yard, and full yard bundles and we’ve got some yardage, too. If you’re dreaming of quilts, napkins, pillowcases, and stockings, this lil’ collection is one to consider.
Tell your people! This one is a major keeper.
Day 6 of 12 Days of Holidays is TODAY!
Day Six!!! Hoooray. The beautiful African Wax Block Print Half Square Triangle quilt kit is a fantastic choice for holiday gift giving!! The kit is comprised of two (42-pc) 5” packs of African wax block prints and 1.75 yards of Essex linen in espresso. Tied with a ribbon and with a quick guide on how to construct HST. If you really want to win, pair this lovely with a 4.5” HST Bloc_Loc ruler and you’ll be set! All the links are stories. Also, recipes for building your own! We have 20 different Essex linens and Manchester fabrics to choose from. Build your own kit!!! Ohhhh yes!
Photo from hawkridge.org
Hawk Ridge in Duluth, MN
With the advent of the new Charley Harper Winter Wonderland fabric, I couldn’t help think about all the birders I know. For decades friends have gone to Hawk Ridge in Duluth, MN and participated in the raptor migration count. It blew my mind when I learned about how and why so many raptors would migrate through the western tip of Lake Superior, right where Duluth is located. But why? Why do they fly through the eastern part of Duluth?
One of nature’s remarkable spectacles can be witnessed each fall at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve. Migrating raptors, originating from summer breeding areas as far north as the Arctic and with wintering destinations as far south as points in South America, concentrate in impressive numbers at the western tip of Lake Superior.
Most raptors are reluctant to cross large bodies of water. When they migrate south and encounter Lake Superior, the birds naturally veer southwest along the lakeshore. They concentrate in impressive numbers on the bluffs overlooking East Duluth and can be easily seen from the overlook at Hawk Ridge. Of the 20 species of raptors and vultures that have been seen at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve, the peregrine falcon and gyrfalcon are among the rarest. Whether species are common or rare, they are all thrilling to watch as they traverse the ridge, often at or below eye level.
WHAT?!?! I could witness this happening through an upstairs window of my house in Duluth and it was fascinating. Definitely check out hawkridge.org and let me know if you’re planning a trip to Duluth. You can go visit Gram Mac or my in-laws or that spirited Karen McTavish Studio. 😉
You guys, I have so much fun taking the photos for all of these emails but I have to admit, the ideas and mischief that I was going to make Stuart, our Elf on the Shelf, get into just never transpired. So, really, I’ll I’ve got for him are some nice Olan Mills shots and a hope that next year, I’ll build some wrongdoing for him to execute. In the mean time, you can create your own accessories for your elf or take advantage of the beautiful Lewis & Irene fabrics. Did you know that the brand Lewis & Irene is British designed and manufactured? That’s kinda cool. And I love the fairy tale aspects of their art. Check out more below!
I remember being a kid and getting to call the Santa Hotline where there was a recording on the other end and it was Santa laughing and giving well wishes. And as a kid, that was powerful. I wondered if anything like this still exists and yesterday I stumbled upon Dial-A-Carol.
Dial-A-Carol is a student-run holiday program at the University of Illinois. Each year the students of Snyder Hall, a University Housing residence hall, host the holiday program Dial-A-Carol. It started in December 1960 by Betty Gordon, an area office secretary, and the residents of Snyder Hall who wanted to spread some holiday cheer around campus.
The idea behind the program is quite simple. Anyone from anywhere can call them and request a holiday tune to be sung over the telephone. The program runs 24 hours a day for seven days and is held each year during finals week of the first semester.
You guys. I called them yesterday. It is AWESOME! You need to gather your friends, coworkers, family, pets, whomever! Gather them around the phone and request a holiday tune. The college kids on the other end of the line were enthusiastic and fun. It made me cry a little to think about the opportunity to live in that dorm and participate in that tradition. CALL THEM! It will only last a few more days!! According to their facebook page, they’ve hit 3000 callers and have had one researcher from Antarctica call two days ago. So. Much. Fun. You’ll find them at: (217) 332-1882.
Day 8: Stocking Kits!!
Hootie hoo!!! Day 8 of 12 brings Stocking Kits! We have been teaching holiday stocking making since the very beginning of time. Well, for eight years! And the cool thing is that ya kinda always need another stocking. For the new baby, the neighbors who just moved in, for the distraught friend whose stocking got accidentally thrown away. What!? You know what I mean. Stockings are welcoming and a totally accomplishable craft in hectic holiday moments. Each kit comes with fabric for boot, cuff, interior lining, fusible fleece and a pattern. I even wrote a blog post about elusive step six in the pattern. Here’s the link if you wanna check it out.
Mail Carrier Approved!
Hoooray! According to our mail carrier Shawn, we’ve still got a little time to throw some packages at her so that she can throw them at you. She’s the best. The USPS says we can still mail packages up until the 20th and not have to worry. Of course, we can send them after that but that is when we all start to sweat if you’re trying to make it Christmas. So get your gift givers involved. We can ship it to you easy peezy and because we try to be swift, we typically get your order out the door if you place it before 2:00 PM EST. We’re like Amazon except there are four employees at Crimson Tate. And we don’t have millions of products. And we don’t have a warehouse. OK. We’re nothing like Amazon except we will ship stuff to you. That’s fun, right?!
I’m sure some of you have heard the story that when I was in college, I worked at summer camp almost every summer. But one summer, my sister got married and I couldn’t spend the summer at camp so I spent the summer writing letters to my buddies at camp.
Every day I would send out oodles of pieces of mail, envelopes decorated. I’d use a 1000 stamps to send them because, well, it’s more fun!! My big artistic break came when my mail carrier knocked on the door and asked if I was the one sending all of the mail. She asked me decorate her wedding invitations! She said she’d pay me real money to do so!! That was the first moment I realized that people got PAID to address envelopes? To doodle and draw? Like, that could be your JOB?! Count me in. I spent hours and hours and hours of my life decorating those envelopes. And sometimes I think if I wasn’t hanging out at Crimson Tate I’d make a path decorating envelopes.
Thanks for listening. See you tomorrow!!!
Day 9: Sally Kelly!! So Good.
I am predicting that this bundle right here is going to WIN all gift giving situations this holiday season. The Hallmark of Hanukah. The Champion of Christmas. The Great Success of Solstice. Feast your eyes on Sally Kelly’s Fantasy collection and get ready for total joy. All those colors. I am a big fan. So let it snow and let it be. Here’s Day 9 of 12 Days of Holidays Gift Giving Ideas for Quilters or for Yourself.
I must highlight that while this is a 28-piece collection of quilting weight cottons, there are also four more fabrics that are printed on lawn! Check out the lawn fabrics here. Amy, cat whisperer at Crimson Tate, recently made a pair of pants from the lawn. To. Die. For. The next time you’re in the store, you need to feel these fabrics.
Duluth News Tribune
So, I subscribe to the electronic version of the Duluth News Tribune even though I live in Indianapolis, IN. I like to know what is going on in the northland and often don’t make it past the front page but you guys, TODAY the front page of the the DNT did not disappoint. It is all about the local Aquarium taking their skunks for a walk. First, the aquarium has skunks? Second, they get put on leashes and taken outside for a walk? As an aside, the temperature in Duluth is -13 today! That’s crazy. And I really love it. I can’t wait to call or text with Grandma Mac later today to discuss Snacks and Snoops, the skunks, and chat about their daily outdoor adventures. I know that probably a lot of small town newspapers have human interest stories as front page news but of course, for me, Duluth News Tribune is ultimate. Just you wait until there’s a sled dog story or how the lift bridge got frozen shut prohibiting the ore ships from setting sail, you better believe I’m going to email you to let you know.
Make it a great day, kids! See you tomorrow.
Day 10 is HERE!
OK. I’m not gonna lie. I have SO MANY ideas of what would make good gifts, I had a hard time deciding what today would highlight. But I landed on one concept, tools. And the two tools that are the most excellent gifts we’ve got.
First up is a pair of Gingher scissors. These are lifetime scissors. In fact, they probably will be passed along to the next generation, too. Razor sharp right out of the box, you can keep them that way with a little care and occasionally having them sharpened. Snippy Jim comes to Crimson Tate from time to time; he’s our scissor sharpening dude. So investing in an awesome pair of sharpenable scissors is wise. You need those dudes to remain sharp!
Second choice of the day is below. Hand-turned seam ripper / stiletto combos. They are fancy and fun. One end is a seam ripper. One end is a stiletto. Made by local artist Everly Coleman, we are pleased to offer these for the first time this holiday season.
Left Handedness & Scissors
In kindergarten, I broke my left arm in a bouncy-house situation right when we were learning to use scissors and I was forced to learn with my right hand. And as a leftie whose outer left hand was covered constantly in pencil smears, learning to use scissors with my right hand was a challenge. But imagine my five year old self cast on one arm, scissors in the other, I was determined but I typically moved at my own pace which was turtle speed. I’ve always been a bit pokey. And by pokey, I mean slow. And by slow, I mean in school, I was usually the last person to complete an assigned task. I lost endless recesses because I couldn’t master my mathematical times tables in the prescribed time. I knew how to do it. I had them memorized. I just didn’t have the swiftness to get the information onto the paper in the “right” amount of time. Good news is that I really liked my teacher so I didn’t mind sitting at my desk and working on math problems if it meant I got to hang out with her, even if it was during recess. I didn’t hate math. I loved it (and still do). I didn’t like time. I think I’m still that way. I definitely get lost in what I’m doing and lose track of time and that’s when time becomes an issue.
I’m pictured above, lower left. This is a photo of my Grandma I call Maw Maw and my siblings and cousins at New Years. I started thinking about offering left-handed scissors at Crimson Tate and the woes I’ve heard from left-handed customers who can’t find what they are looking for. And that request sent me down a path of thinking about why I’m left-handed and use right-handed scissors and then the broken arm and all roads point back to childhood where copious amounts of time were spent with my grandparents.
I’ve been thinking lately about how as a kid I’d get lost in the smallest of details like counting the yarns on the quilt Maw Maw gave me. Or burying treasures in the yard and making maps to find them again. I want to spend more time doing things like that. Making maps, observing nature, learning to do things with my opposite hand. And you know what that takes? Time. And sometimes that comes at a turtle pace. And curiosity. And permission to not be the best or the fastest, or to give yourself grace if “all of your points don’t line up.”
And as we race toward the holidays, which promises the opportunity to slow down, I am trying to make the time and space now to get lost in what is right in front of me. Find beauty in objects, sentiments, mistakes, inconveniences, and learning something new. It all takes time.