Tuesday, December 03, 2013
How did you get here? Our days have been so very full. With Mary Anna's Baptism planned for Saturday after Thanksgiving it wasn't until midday Monday before that I remembered something about a big meal on Thursday involving poultry and extra people in my house. Oh yes. That's right. Additionally for a few weeks Jeff and I have been working little by little on our hall bathroom which has sorta been ignored in all of our years here. I somehow can only see fit to make changes if I am allowed to gut and start over. All or nothing. But really this bath didn't require a gutting, just some thinking. And scrubbing, scouring, scraping, plastering, sanding, painting, papering and prettying. And I love it. That paper snippet up there is a detail of this utterly too gorgeous to pass up wallpaper. It was worth it since it covers such a small space but carries all the impact. Anyway. I would love to show you the whole room here soon. With that done I was ready to tackle the housecleaning for two days. The baby was strapped to the front of me while I picked up or watching the washing machine from her bouncy seat while I folded clothes or asleep in her swing while I did the nittygritty. We got it done her and I. Once the kids were home for break I of course had to verbalize their share of cleaning to them repeatedly until it was done or until I verbalized it so much that I could have done it twelve times myself. But that's how it works. Anyway. Our house was spiffy. Which always makes me feel so ready to enjoy myself and enjoy our company.
Juliana flew in Tuesday night, and was attacked at the door by, well, all of us. For a few hours each of the kids had to show her something they have been waiting to show her whether it was a new suchnsuch that she hadn't seen yet or a youtube video that hadn't been laughed at together yet. I bought new sheets for the bed she uses in the nursery now when she's home. They were freshly washed and tucked in place ready for her to plop down on that bed and sleep off the big city. I think that was my favorite preparation. I loved watching Mary soak her in slowly then the recognition warmed her to her biggest sister. Sister cuddles. So very wonderful.
Thursday brought my Dad, Jeff's brother, Dad and stepmom all for dinner with us. Naturally it was all about food that day, but I didn't go too crazy. I made my standard scalloped potatoes, turkey, ham, salad, and tiropita while my girls made two pumpkin pies, two pecan pies and a sausage apple stuffing. In between cooking steps I joined the kids in front of the Wii a few times to dance my rear-end off while they laughed and beat me at the dancing game thingy that I can't remember the name of. Mary Anna watched everyone all day. She even threw her limbs around a little from her bouncy seat while we danced. Certainly that was on purpose. She's smart. She watched and studied the less familiar faces. She didn't miss anything. Dinner was followed by what Nicolas likes to call a hootenanny. Jeff, and his dad and brother joined forces on their guitars to play some bluegrass favorites. Jeff sang more than normal as he has some DrivebyTruckers in his repertoire now. Grandpa Jack serenaded MA and she couldn't take her eyes off of him.
Friday brought my sister from South Carolina who quickly got to the store with me to buy flowers for the reception tables. If my sister Eleni is anywhere within 500miles and you need to do anything with flowers, either keep them alive, or talk about them or arrange them, she is your girl. We had such a nice time picking them out. I had such a nice time not arranging them. She enjoyed every minute of me not helping her with that. My brother was also in town by then from New York with his two oldest girls. He and I made baklava. I only wanted George to do the baklava with me so that mine would be better. Which it was. Then we all went to the movies including my dad who has not been to the movies in a million years. Most of us were a little disappointed with the 2nd Hunger Games movie, some of us were just glad Papou paid for all of it, and others of us only went for the popcorn. I imagine it might be another million years before he goes back.
The morning of the Baptism started with me putting ice in 120 glasses, placing my sister's bouquets on 15 tables then letting the caterers take over from there. The Baptism was so beautiful. Her Godmother Kiki is such a tender and loving woman and we are so fortunate that she joins our family. Mary Anna practically sprang from the font after being submerged three times without a tear or a wimper, only to begin talking to the 100 or so in attendance with giggles and joy. It was remarkable. Everyone noticed. How blessed and sweet and unusual her response to the Sacrament was. It was as though she wanted to know what was next because that was all just really fun and extraordinary.
Remnants of goodness are all around. Extra beds with flannel sheets still set up that cousins slept on. Couches shoved this way and that to make room for dancing. Handwashed knits drying flat and waiting for the next cold day. Savory smells of past dinners being warmed and enjoyed again (and again). Sweet bundles of jordan almonds from the Baptism. A gleaming ivory embroidered baby gown hanging from the shelf that holds a picture of her Nani and me.
Everything in and out of place and we are winding up the last of this year's strand. So much more to go still.
Monday, November 18, 2013
Dowry is my newest feature collection of 24 quilting cottons. (And only quilting cottons actually for this line.) Here is my collection description: So often beauty comes to us in the form of tangible gifts, passed on by loved ones who have come before us. Even more lovely is when these goods were actually intended for and handmade with us in mind. This to me is the very heart of the handmade world, and I wanted to honor it with a collection that is very personal and built from the handiwork from my own family. Dowry is a compilation of literal translations of some of my own family heirlooms, some imagery is only from memory, and some prints are simply imagined companions that reference the handmade, hand stitched, and the well-loved. Dowry is at once nostalgic and energetic… a new love with a past life.
Each of the colorways is named for a piece of jewelry I've been given.
Rubies & Pearls (a ring from my great, great aunt)
Charm Bracelet (from my parents for my high school graduation)
Brass Locket (from my grandmother Anna Ruth, holding pictures of my grandfather, mom, and aunt)
Being very literal about the translations of artwork from heirloom to fabric was incredibly satisfying. The process inspired me beyond the actual recreated artworks, but also completely reinvigorated my "mark" making. How I stroked the surface for each print. They are all a little different, and in the end sort of reference and pay tribute to several styles of print processes over centuries of making textiles. For instance, the Twill Bouquet was born out of my first needlepoint project as a child, but the texture inspired a twill motif rather than a needlepoint one. Those twill lines running through the bouquet saw fit to take a few turns in the negative space for some contemporary interest (not unlike my juvenile stitches that went in all directions). (Mom and I made that pillow together several years ago with my Bohemian fabrics after recovering the needlepoint from missing.)
And the Lineage print. This dear deer of Yiayia's. Dear deer of mine (the story is here). It was important to me to invoke the print with the horizontal runnings of a loom, so all the art is created in line and purposefully a little imperfect in it's printing, slightly thinner here, overprinted there. It feels so special to me that way. Already belonging wherever it is. I love it. I cannot tire of it.
Every print and title in this collection is special to me. Close to me and very personal. I could not have anticipated just how personal when I designed it, barely and secretly pregnant exactly a year ago, and still the daughter of a visible mother. I could not have. Yes, it's only fabric. Only things. But so are all of pieces and gifts that inspired the work. When Pierrette and I were shooting the above photo, the mannequin needed just a little something. I was able to pull out one of my mom's crocheted shawls still tucked in a box full of things I had just retrieved from her closet a few days earlier. Perfect. Only a shawl.
But so very good to hold it, and see it. Like everything we give and receive out of love.
While we do sell it, and it is my living, I also offer this with love. I hope you enjoy it!
yours, Anna Maria
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Hulllloo. Happy November. November is great. Particularly this one. It's wonderful enough watching the weather change, the colors intensify through your window, the house feeling like a cozier place to be, and going outdoors feeling more like an adventure than a chore....but this November, two lovely happenings in the form of fabric are happening. The first is TRUE COLORS. People. This was so fun for me. Setting these parameters on my designing was a rewarding challenge and I love the results. I hope you do too!
Here's the schpeil from the website regarding the collection (all true, wrote it myself, so I know): I am thrilled to introduce you to my first collection of not-so-basic basics! True Colors is the latest collection program from Free Spirit designed by a select group that I am so proud to be part of. These prints and colorways are specifically designed to work beautifully along side all of my fabric collections. My twenty True Colors fabrics fill in any color gaps one might have in their stash to complete a full palette of inspiration. A gorgeous spectrum that is always good to have around no matter the style or the project!
And if you haven't noticed yet that you are floating amongst the most heavenly, chubby, sweet little cherub along with a divine assortment of colorful mini pants, I would like to point out the fabulous little knickers that are my latest free pattern for you. Cause I wanted knickers and so did the baby. She said so.
Visit my MAKE page to download the knick-knack Knickers sewing pattern by me. Knick-knack Paddywhack was my mom's favorite song to rock little ones too. So I sing it, and sew these (just twenty of 'em) in her honor of her silly, fun "Nani" self.
True Colors is loaded into our shop, as well as favorite shops all over the globe, so have fun! I'll get a Flickr group for it going soon and I can't wait to see all the sewing going down!
I'll be back tomorrow to scoop on Dowry after I can figure out a way to talk about it without crying sentimental tears. ;-P (fabric is happy, fabiric is happy, fabric is happy.)
xo, hugs, AM
Thursday, October 17, 2013
These last weeks have been so good. Everything feels all painted together in bold, broad strokes that look just right. The weather has been something that I dream about on days when it's otherwise. Being at my dad's house to begin going through my mother's belongings was very much what I thought it would be like. I think my sister and I spent more time giggling over things than we did crying. We felt her right there with us, laughing. And we teased her memory over some of the fashion choices she made that hung in her closet. Of course there were tears. Over shawls we remember braiding the fringe of to stay occupied during Liturgy. But thankfully there was one for each of us. That was the good part. Choosing things for people. Thinking about who might like a piece of jewelry or a handknit sweater. It was like continuing her work to spread some love and gifts around. That was so nice. Saving things for grand-daughters, looking forward to a special time to give them each something. We also set aside things for dad to take to Greece this winter. For his sisters and his sisters-in-law. They miss her so much. Dad has a whole huge crate of furniture and such that he is shipping to his house in Greece. He mentioned plans of putting a quilt in there a few weeks ago that mom made. I asked him which and his answer made me realize that it was one Mom and I had chosen the fabrics for in NYC on a trip together. So I asked if he could leave that one here and I would bring him one even bigger and better suited for the bed it was to go on. I knew full well as I offered that, that I likely didn't have one that size. So in the midst of lots of other time sensitive work, for three days I stopped to make a new patchwork quilt for him to take to Greece. And now the other is safe at home with me. Folded at the end of my bed. For extra warmth. Worth the scurry.
My Aunt Beth from Indiana was here for a visit and to meet Miss Mary Anna Louisa. This woman is an utter joy. She exudes such an air of peace and joyfulness that it is impossible to not feel peace and joy in her presence. So much like Mom. But of course completely unique and wonderful in other ways. We played with Mary. I gave her many of Mom's things. As we went through items she had stories for so much of mom's jewelry that I had never heard. It was wonderful. I showed her my fabrics and everything in my studio. Described what the process of making fabric it is like. I tested her to see if she could pick out the print discrepancies in my latest strike offs. We talked so much. Talked about all the kids. We shopped. We bought little gold leather shoes with bows on the toes for Mary. Her first pair of shoes. I'm so glad I did that with Aunt Beth. We bought new buttons for a knitted romper that I made for the baby. She had the perfect suggestion of using two sizes of buttons since there weren't enough of one size at the store. It was so simple. But I wouldn't have thought of it. We bought new soup bowls for me. We ate. We filled the bowls with chili that night and sat with my Uncle Linden and Jeff and all the children around our long dining table and enjoyed conversation that went in all directions. Baby Mary gave her a million smiles in just two days. Fell asleep for an hour or two on her lap. Passed out cold, all limbs splayed out. She never does that.
And we are doing so much else in the studio. We have shipped a painted backdrop and lots of other goodies to Houston for my Quilt Market booth. I am going over Dowry ribbon samples for a late fall delivery- they are so beautiful- oh how I love them. I've just finished making corrections to the first round strike offs for the Spring'14 fabrics. I am making plans with Heather to help her teach in Palm Springs in January. I am making plans to teach at MQG Sew Down Nashville in April. We are shipping out the first batch of pre-sold prints today, the rest should ship out middle of next week. Then we should be on track to ship as they sell. This was so fun to do. Out of the norm here, and just cool to do something entirely independently. We are planning the next series of Janome free projects and videos. I will also be guest posting regularly at their FB page and blog starting next month.
I am in disbelief that our baby girl is more than four months. She babbles entire symphonies, smiles at everyone, absolutely everyone and is the most kissable, huggable, strong and lovely little bitty human. She just is. She is so fun to love. So easy to love. And buttoning a sweater up to her fat little chin to meet the cool air on the other side of our front door is really all I need.
Even so, there is a whole lot more.
kisses from here, xoxoAnna
Friday, October 04, 2013
We've been all over sorta. Babes and I went to my sister's in Columbia SC last week. It was splendid. A wholotta sitting on her porch with embroidery and baby and sister and coffee and just chatting then finding ourselves in our pajamas still at 1pm then getting dressed only so we don't look like total losers when everyone else comes home. That was great. She said her roses were in bloom for me. She said her Christmas cactus eeked out a bloom for me too. My sister is like that. She knows that blooms happen for people. She and flowers. There's something there. Like she speaks to them and they speak back I think. She was born on the Spring Equinox.
Now we are off again. Headed to my Dad's today in East Tennessee. Meeting my sis again there, this time to begin going through Mom's things. I am actually looking forward to it. From here it feels like lots of good memories and tender, personal love to go through. Might not feel just like that once I am there, but I am hopeful. As my Aunt Beth (Mom's only sister) instructed me in her handwritten card this week, mingle laughter with tears. And we will. And likely wine too. (That's what she meant by that right?)
I want to thank everyone for the print orders! Wow, thank you, so so so much. You are just awesome and supportive and I don't know how to thank you. It's been a great success which makes me feel so good. You can't even sew anything with this art and you still want it! Wow. Thank you. I wasn't sure how many to have printed of each and just settled on 100 editions per print. It appears to have been about the right number as we still have a bit left of each. So there is still some early gift buying potential for the holidays if you wish!
Have a great weekend. Lots of love! xoxoAnna
Monday, September 23, 2013
I took so much sparkley, fun, giddy pleasure in putting this gathering of framed works together on Mary Anna's nursery wall. I have been looking at the blank wall, as in, a wall with absolutely nothing on it, not a thing, don't even think about it, nothing, since about June 9th. That was when I started parking my fanny in the rocker and nursing a two day old... facing that wall. A million and ten times a day. I have had a lot of time to think about that wall and what should go on it. In fact I perhaps have done that very thing more than I have done anything since June 9th with exception to possibly nursing. Let's call it a tie. Because Miss Mary Anna Louisa (Bouisa)'s room was built into the studio I have dubbed her room to be quite art-y and have filled it with lots of handwork, and the like. I will take more pictures of the whole room soon. But The Wall. Sure, I have embroideries. Sure, I have quilts. Yeh, got needlepoints. I wanted to have something framed too. My sister and I went through a huge pile of vintage handkerchiefs that belonged to my Great Grandmother earlier in the Spring. Holy Smokes, they are beautiful. Most are about 100 years old. Perfect in frames. In smaller frames, some are folded down to show just a small corner. A few are shown fully. Above is my favorite. Oh it's beautiful! But finally I created the first edition of my own prints. Which mix in so very well. I just adore the wall now, so very much.
So that is a long winded way to let you know that my first limited edition print collection is now for sale in the online shop! This is a *pre-sale and we'll begin shipping them out in about 3 weeks. So sit tight. And dream beautiful wall dreams while you wait.
Friday, September 20, 2013
97 years. We said goodbye to Jeff's Grandma yesterday, mostly just family gathered to remember and celebrate such a long, long life. I brought the baby and Roman a little later than everyone else to accommodate my nursing schedule and a long day for little ones. We turned into the cemetery and after a quick look around through the car windows and sweltering heat, Roman asked, "Is Nani here?" We've always called my mom Nani. "Nani is everywhere, sweetie'" I imagined out loud. "Her name is here now... on a pretty bronze plate, would you like to go and see it after we pray for Great Grandma?" A very firm and excited yes from the boy. I've done the simple arithmetic in my head at least 100 times. 97-68=29yrs. Then the question. Why one so long, and another not nearly? I will never know. And it's not important, but the math. Over and over. We were glad for this sweet old woman, breathing her last, after wishing for it almost everyday since she lost her husband. I think she finally just willed it to happen, and it was granted. As we said our goodbyes under the small tent, I couldn't help but peer through some heads to my mother's resting place, a few hundred yards away. Could I see it? Yes, just past the statue of Ruth, just on top of that stone wall, and one row over... the pink and white flowers I could barely make them out I thought. Just past the bright yellow. And every few minutes I kept checking. Could I still see it? Yes. Still? Yes. Right There. I held Roman's sweaty little palm and we walked down the hill, carefully over and around other names, years, grass, anthills, flowers, hopes. We edged along the road towards her name, so much heat. He insisted on balancing along the curb, one foot in front of the other, which made us go slowly. My mind slower. Forced all of me to make the walk. My head, heart and body. I shed my black sweater. The same one I wore in those days. The black dress. The same one I wore that day. I recalled (for the 1000th time) how I told her I was not going to buy a black maternity dress. Right after she told me who should be her pall bearers. It was March, almost Spring. "Well okay, I don't think you'll have too," she said with the sweetest smile. But I did. I told myself that since it was also a nursing dress, that I would be nursing in it by the time I needed it, certainly. Certainly. Certainly. The math. Only a few months till the baby comes. Certainly I'll have them both. Together. At least for the tiniest amount of time.
Today I am in control of the smallest little things. Some thread. Some fabric. Should I nurse at 11:15? Or 11:20? I'll decide and then that will be what happens. And I will stitch on and on and on. Spring. Summer. Even now Fall. I go.
We reached her plate, Roman rubbed his hands over the letters, but quickly pulled back from the piping hot metal. Then he wanted to get in the shade with his sister under the huge oak tree nearby so he ran, dodging plates, and I felt he should be more careful, or respectful. Or that he should linger with me there longer, over her grave. But then I corrected the thoughts. And watched his joy with my own. Because she is everywhere. xoxoAM
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
(It's true that I really do have the most fun naming everything that I design. Naming is my favorite. Ahem.) The original inspiration for this new bag design was to incorporate the possibility of including a needlepoint work into the bag. For me, that dictated the whole look of the bag to be a bit old-timey carpet bag like. And luxurious. But a shape that is simple and modern enough that it would translate well into many other fabrications. Working with velveteen was a must for me on the first few samples. I simply love that fabric for bags. Really good weight and something about the texture is just so fancy and perfect on bags.
The clutch (on my way to a wedding last summer with the prototype) was a must when I decided on a variation, but a nice large scale that did not skimp on space. Kind of portfolio like but way more feminine with the shirring. The needlepoints that I used for the two bags above are the perfect size for this bag to begin with, though you could really use any special handwork or patchwork piece in the framed feature spot. Or something that is only as special as your current favorite print (because we know that changes weekly).
For the cover bag, I decided to do just that, by framing the "Parenthetical Flight" print in my leopard velveteen. (It makes me think of a cat coughing up feathers of a bird he just ate only more sophisticated.)
Even simpler still is this version that I have used everyday for about a month. Mary Anna and I share this bag (because I have never taken to the one bag for me, one bag for baby thing very well). I skipped over the framed and shirred front feature all together and just made a simple version that uses the bag back piece twice and same linen fabric all over. The handles are just long enough to slide up to my shoulder if I choose, but comfy at my elbow as I hold other things too, like, uh, a baby. So there she is, my newest bag pattern. Hope you like it! I know that a bunch of you have been waiting for Field Study linens to be back in stock, and I'm here to tell you they are!
In other news, we just painted the downstairs studio, cause there's a new wall in there (the one that created a nursery for MA) that was waiting for paint. It all feels so fresh now with a new coat of "glass of milk" by Martha Stewart (same as upstairs studio). Before I move everything back in I am taking advantage of the empty floor space to layer up two new quilt tops with their battings and backings. I'll be shooting with Creativebug again next week so the fresh and clean is good timing.
Also I just polished off a 1/2 pint of everything but the....
Post-baby eating plan going as expected ;-P
Friday, September 13, 2013
When I designed this quilt I had tradition on my mind. I also was set on making a quilt pattern that felt a little like a snowflake-y/fair isle-y/navaho-y piece. You know. But wanted it to feel modern at the same time. After a whole bunch of tinkering, sewing, patching, drawing, mathing and swearing, I arrived a block design that I loved, and one that was not insane to expect of someone else. The Flight Map Quilt. And like much of designing patchwork proves to be, it was quite a bit of complication to arrive at simplicity. Layering on to all of that, the pattern only uses one single block, but employs strategic color changes to arrive at the medallion style you see above. 8 solids + 12 watercolor like prints. I would not label this as a beginner quilt, though I would say that it is largely composed of beginner to intermediate piecing skills. And I REALLY believe it to appear way more complicated than it seems. Really, really. I also wanna show you some variations with different color layouts for some inspiration......
I made the above crib sized quilt from some of the the Hand Drawn Garden collection. Each of the 6 blocks is exactly the same and the arrangement of them creates the fun little arrows of magenta and coral. The arrangement also only allows the cream solid to complete a whole diamond in one place which is not exactly center which I think is pretty unique. The Volumes print cut in a stripey manner gives the print-y prints a nice kick.
Naturally it seemed the next thing to try was to not only make a version where every block is the same, but also one where the blocks are entirely symmetrical. Oh how I love this version. Really so very traditional in one way but a close inspection of the single block feels so quirky and fresh when you see the fabrics up close. The floating cross elements and the more subdued flying geese rows feels so calming and lovely. I just adore it. This one is made from eight different Dowry prints (releasing in November!) and just one solid. And no, I did not make all three myself! The original was made together with my pal and stellar quilter, Brittney, the crib size all by me, and the latest above entirely by Brittney. I cannot let you people think that a lady with a 3month old is doing this much patchwork. It just wouldn't be right. But anyway. I wish I were.
Have a good weekend. S'pose to be 78 at the very hottest tomorrow and I have already decided that will make it the best day of my life.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
I recall a recent conversation I had with Juliana about fabric and prints and why we are so obsessed with flowers to the point where it almost exclusively dominates our decor. We, being civilization. The two of us concluded that if one looks to nature as a source of inspiration, what else would you choose, really? Of course flowers. They encompass every bit of beauty, architecture, color, repetition, metamorphosis, and perfection one needs to stay inspired and never exhaust the possibilities to portray them some other way. I find myself trying very hard to exhaust roses in my own work, by playing them out every which way and in various media. Joyously, I cannot. And so I keep at it.
(Pauses to acknowledge baby girl after a mighty squeal of delight as though she agrees.)
I am starting a new personal project that I have been thinking about FOREVER. My friend Heather encouraged me to push on and do it about 6 months ago. I'm so excited to say that I am- limited edition prints of my artwork! Developing the first release has been really fun, and I will be sharing more soon. I took a little poll on Instagram, and an overwhelming majority seems to really wanna see Roses, Moths, Butterflies in print form. What say you?
There will be about 4-6 different prints. I am hoping to have the final works up for pre-sale as we welcome Autumn in just a couple weeks. And then we will be shipping them out a few weeks later. This is something that I hope to do about twice a year, with new editions each time. I'm really excited and can't wait to show you what I've been working on for them!
Happy Wednesday! xoxo, AnnaMaria
ps. sign up for my mailing list to be the first to know about the prints!