The Conundrum of Christmas and Making Time to Craft

Dear friends,

Is it just me or does it seem like each year the messaging around Christmas gets a little more... out-of-hand? This year I noticed Christmas displays the moment after Halloween decorations came down. Didn't we used to have an unwritten rule in the states that Thanksgiving came before Christmas?

I'm not sure if it's a result of my recent Make Thrift Mend fast, delving deeper into the many complicated issues around factory made goods, or if it's because I'm a new mom with a three-year-old and I'm hyper aware of the messages I send to him around any holiday. But this year feels particularly aggressive on the marketing front. Some stores are even emailing me every day with a new offer. Good grief! Time to get off their mailing lists.

Forgive me for being presumptuous but I think most of us feel a little too much pressure around the gift-giving side of Christmas and a little too much scarcity around the merriment. Am I right? Where's the time for decorating, baking, crafting, and (gasp) taking a walk in the snow or rain maybe even singing some Christmas carols a little off key when we are keeping up with all that shopping?

I'm calling it the conundrum of Christmas. I think it's at odds with a slow and intentional DIY life but I also think there are SO many opportunities to do it differently. (Don't give up, we can do it!) I've been making a list with my three-year-old about what Christmas means. Yes, it means gifts. But what else?

I keep nudging him to identify the other changes in our home, neighborhood, and weekly routines: The tree, decorations, baking, special foods, songs, handmade stockings, and holiday stories. Also the meals we've planned with friends. The gifts we're making for relatives. And the plate of cookies that showed up yesterday from my dear neighbor in her Sunday sweatpants. Our short list grows until I have convinced him, and myself, that Christmas is more than receiving gifts.

Growing up my family was crazy for Christmas. My father loved the spectacle of it all. But, of course, some of the things I remember most from my own childhood holidays aren't just the presents but specific shifts from the everyday routines like my father made breakfast Christmas morning instead of my mom, we cut the tree down ourselves and dragged it across the front yard, and it was the one time each year my mother would play records and we could listen to her beautiful singing voice while she baked all those delicious cookies.

I've come to the realization that Christmas doesn't have to be an assault on my personal values. It doesn't have to be completely at odds with the way I spend my money or my time the other eleven months of the year. Instead, it's an opportunity to dig deeper. It's an opportunity to challenge myself to stay aligned with my values and make the time to select gifts or make gifts that feel aligned with my ideals.

This year I am making 50% of the gifts. No, I didn't suddenly come into unlimited hours of daycare or a complete lack of freelance deadlines. Not at all. I just made the commitment to making 50% of the gifts because that feels important this year. Then I streamlined the process as much as humanly possible to make the creating and packaging more manageable. I'm making soaps for the first time and so far, so good. Lavender, oatmeal, and black tea are my secret ingredients this year. We're also making some specialty foods and a few other crafty creations that I can't give away quite yet.

I'm reminding myself I can choose handmade. I can choose to buy less. I can choose to buy from our local, independent shops instead of the mega chains. I can close my computer and walk away from the advertisements and make special foods or hot chocolate instead. Put on some holiday music and make something crafty with my hands. Even if it's one Christmas ornament or one handmade gift--it's a shift on the horizon that makes a huge difference over time. And it allows us another recreational activity aside from shopping even though my email inbox might tell me differently.

So I wish you the most beautiful and slow and intentional and lovely winter holidays that are imaginable. I wish you hot toddies, peanut butter balls, handmade ornaments, a houseful of holiday tunes sung proudly off key, and ample gatherings with family and friends. A walk in the woods or a jaunt in the rain. I'll be taking a break from this blog to indulge in some crafting, baking, and merriment making with my own little family over the next two weeks. I'll see you back here on Monday, January 5 with some fun news.

Happy New Year, you radiant souls! May your holidays be merry and bright.


PS--Do you have favorite holiday traditions you'd be willing to share? Any crafty creations or favorite recipes you can't go without each December? I'd love to know your secrets to a handmade holiday. Please leave any thoughts or ideas in the comment section. Thank you for sharing!


Free Pattern: Easy Knit Infinity Scarf, DIY Tutorial


A new DIY project for you today! This is an easy knitting in the round infinity scarf pattern using a seed stitch. I just created this scarf pattern and I wanted to share it with you today. I'm a novice knitter, intermediate at best, but as many of you know I often edit or create patterns when I'm working in my studio. It's an imperfect approach to crafting and art but it best fits my studio practice and wabi sabi approach while allowing for a little innovation and creativity along the way. Innovation and creativity, that's the fun part, right?

When I started searching for infinity scarf patterns I couldn't find anything that really matched the scarf I imagined. Several were close but just not exact so I started this scarf four times (and took it apart four times) until it started to look like the one I had imagined. Now, here it is finished! Then I posted this scarf on Instagram last week and it was well received--somebody asked for the pattern and I thought it would be a nice winter DIY project to offer here on my blog. A new pattern for you.

I had three main goals for this infinity scarf: Over-sized, super soft, and minimal design. My secondary goals were also brief: No seams, no fancy stitches, and one single color. I did decide to add just one row of color around the top edge but this was a last minute whim. Next time I'd stay with my instinct for monochromatic. This is my very first knitting pattern so please let me know if anything is unclear or needs more detail. Eep! Exciting.

Katrina's Improvised Winter Infinity Scarf

  • Cast on 91 stitches. If you alter this pattern, be sure to cast on an uneven number of stitches.
  • Use the seed stitch (knit 1, purl 1 alternating stitches) to end of first row.
  • Continue every row with seed stitch (alternating k1, p1) until desired width or until you've used 200 grams of yarn--be sure to leave enough yarn to bind off.
  • Note: My scarf measures approximately 9" wide and 47" long (or 47" around).
  • Bind off. Weave in any loose ends. 
  • Wrap around your neck twice and wear with glee. 
  • Enjoy!*

This scarf is knit on the round so there are no seams and because the first row of stitches and the bind off stitches are the same as the entirety of the scarf (seed stitch) there is no noticeable edge, the back and front sides are reversible, and the edges do not curl. These were also priorities in finding a pattern that was suitable for an infinity scarf--the seed stitch is perfect for this scarf.

There are several free patterns online so do be sure to identify your favorite. This seed stitch on the round is really a perfect stitch for a beginner infinity scarf. Voila! I worked on this scarf for several nights when my toddler was in bed but also found it was simple enough to pick up for a few minutes here and there when he was busy with his trains. Win, win.

Now, go make some hot chocolate and sit by the fire while you work on your new infinity scarf. Never mind that holiday to do list, it will still be there when you're done knitting. I promise. Or better yet, make this scarf for somebody on your list and give handmade! I dare you.


*Note: Mind you, I am not an advanced knitter, so I can't promise you that the gauge and techniques in this pattern are up to industry standards. But industry standards aren't really my concern as an independent artist, so I'm simply sharing the pattern that worked for me--if you have any questions leave them in the comment section and I'll do my best to clarify. Happy Holidays!


10 Favorite Indie Shops for the Holidays

 (Image found via Pinterest from Frolic Blog with cute wreath tutorial.)

Dear Friends,

It's December. That means the winter holidays have officially arrived. Let the crafting, baking, decorating, and indie gift shopping begin. While we try to make many of our gifts by hand, cook the best sugary treats, and decorate with thoughtful or handmade items, most of us will also turn to the shops and makers to complete our holiday shopping list. This is a huge opportunity to support independent artists and small businesses at local craft fairs, local shops, and through their online stores.

Last winter I posted my first list of 10 favorite indie shops for the holidays and I've created a new list for this year. Hip, hip, hooray! Because if nothing else I hope all the extra spending over the holiday season might be a good excuse to support independent makers, artists, artisans, and your favorite local shops too.

So...here's my 2014 list of 10 indie shops to note this holiday season. I worked hard not to repeat any favorite shops from last winter's list but some of my all-time favorites are over there so you can see this post for 10 more recommendations:

My 10 Favorite Indie Shops for 2014 Holiday Shopping: 

1. I'm in love with everything Sojourn makes. Her simple, thoughtful, and beautiful ceramic accessories just make me swoon. My husband gifted me the small moon phase necklace and it's one of my absolute favorites. I have another necklace of hers on my wish list this year. Simple, thoughtful, and stunning. I'm sold. She also has a lovely Instagram feed if you're on IG.

2. Tamar Mogendorff just might be one of the most inspired and inspiring soft sculptors I've ever come across. Her fabric sculptures are divine. I have a long list of favorite artists and crafters making 3-dimensional work with fabric but her work is certainly near the top of that long list. Gorgeous creations. If you're looking for something extra special, wanting to add more sculpture to your own home, or just need some textile inspiration check out her gorgeous work.

3. Hand-carved wooden objects and furniture seem to be popping up all over the design world. I admit I'm smitten by the idea of making my own wooden bowls and spoons. Artist, Ariel Alasko, is leading this trend with her incredible and design-savvy work. Her work and studio space have been featured in numerous craft magazines and websites and all for good reason. Her Instagram feed is like a small gallery of gorgeous objects, beautiful photographs, and swoon-worthy wood creations. Her work sells out quickly so be sure to be in the front of the line if you find something you love.

4. Jess Brown's dolls are close to perfection. I first noticed her work in a local Oakland shop when two of her original dolls were peering down from the top of a toy display. But then I started to notice her clothing design, her books, and then her beautiful range of work with textiles. If I had an unlimited budget I would add her simple well-designed clothing to my regular rotation. Check out this gorgeous blouse.

5. I met Erin of Cotton & Flax at a Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco a few years ago. We were vendors on the same aisle and wandered over to check out each other's goods. I was struck by her simple straight-forward designs and thoughtful color palette on tea towels, pillows, and more. Since that meeting her work has skyrocketed through the craft and design world and I cheer every time I see her featured. It's such good design--that always looks deceivingly simple but we all know it takes great talent, vision, and amazing editing skills to pull off "simple". Hooray, Erin.

6. Mazama Ceramics: Oh, so pretty. I love how I can just imagine all of their household ceramics slipping right into my own cupboards. With a Heath Ceramic style simplicity and timelessness not to mention rich colors, pretty textures, and lovely shapes Mazama Ceramics has launched a gorgeous collection in not very much time. I'm loving their tumblers, mugs, and small cups in a simple, earthy palette of gray, white, green, and blue.

7. I've been loving Ariel Clute's jewelry for awhile now. I first saw it in a local boutique in Oakland and then swooned at her collections last year at West Coast Craft. I love her use of mixed media including beads, tassels, and leather, and the way she uses bright and neutral colors in combination. My husband gifted me one of her original necklaces and, truth be told, I wear it in near constant rotation with the Sojourn necklace mentioned above. And, I just happened to notice, she's having a sale over on her site so be sure to get there soon.

8. I've mentioned Folk Fibers work here on my blog before. Her quilts are simply stunning. And her use of natural dyes in her quilt work is just double stunning in my book. In addition to her gorgeous, heirloom quilts she also offers scarves and pillows too. Her quilts are on my wish list--one day I'd like to have one of her originals gracing my own bedroom decor. Perhaps when my toddler is no longer prone to sticky fingers. In the meantime her pillows and scarves might fit a wider range of budgets. Her Instagram feed is also a lovely dose of inspiration in the digital world.

9. I have a true love for independent publishers and indie magazines. I love their perspective of the craft and design world and how they feature independent artisans and makers. My newest love is the publication by the Textile Arts Center in NYC. I've only received the first issue but it was so beautiful I am anxiously awaiting the second. Everything about this magazine is gorgeous: The content, the photographs, the texture of the paper, the overall design, the artists and artisans featured, you name it. If you have any fiber lovers in your life, I would highly suggest a subscription to this lovely new read.

10. My list of artist-run letterpress shops is also quite long, but Kathryn Hunter at Blackbird Letterpress is always on my favorite list. I love her approach to printing and graphic design and how she really succeeds at offering inspired, original, and also artful cards, calendars, wedding invitations, custom work, and even 3-d paper sculpture. I met Kathryn at Second Storie Indie Market and I was instantly charmed by her work and her person. She's a true artist in the indie craft world balancing that difficult job of making original work and running a successful business. Check out her holiday cards that transform into paper ornaments. Genius.


It's so hard to narrow my list of favorites down to just 10. But I did it. I think I could name 10 favorites in each category: textiles, wood, ceramics, paper, fashion, publications, home goods, kids, and then we didn't even get to handcrafted beauty products like dreamy handmade organic soaps, lotions, and salves. Maybe one day I'll have a small shop and curate a selection of favorite handmade goods for my customers.  You know, in my spare time.

Happy Holidays, friends! Make it indie, make it yours.


Note: All images are courtesy of the artists and bloggers, please visit their websites and shops for more information about the range of their offerings and their truly beautiful work. Enjoy.


Gratitude, Re-Charging, and New Beginnings


This week I am finding time to return to my roots: Making things with my own two hands. In the midst of much bigger studio events like launching my first book, planning and teaching several workshops, and continuing with the Make Thrift Mend project I have also taken a few hours here and there to creatively recharge. Yes, recharge. Because I've learned that when my work hours become a series of spreadsheets, unanswered emails, and computer to-do lists my energy for all this work starts to shift.

I try to remember the incentive I had three-years-ago when I made the leap into freelance with a newborn at my side. I wanted a flexible schedule, I wanted to be able to work from home with only part-time daycare for my son, and I wanted to work towards a sustainable career based in my studio practice. As businesses grow and work expands the demands for organization, planning, and communication increase. This feels like a natural progression.

But when our career is dependent on a creative practice it's all too easy to spend less and less time creating work while spending more and more time managing the work. This too seems like a natural progression, not particular to being a freelance artist but to managing any career that continues to expand.

But how do we stay centered in our original goals while managing the day-to-day operations? I think that's the million dollar question, right? My latest answer is about balance and diversifying my work day. Not the balance we imagine as perfection but balance that simply feels good. Sometimes this just means closing my computer for the last 30 minutes of the day and turning to my needles and threads.

I ask myself, "Why do I do this work?" and my answer is always about meaning and connection. Because there's a meaning derived from creative work that I want to hold onto. There's a connection to my surroundings, community, family, friends, and to myself that I try to keep in focus. There's an inspiration, a connection, a satisfaction that comes from making things with my own two hands. This connection cannot be recreated by maintaining spreadsheets, emails, and calendars. Of course, it cannot expand without them. So, it's about achieving balance between the two.

But as I head into the Thanksgiving holiday and consider the food and people and place where our holiday will be hosted I also try to stop and think about gratitude. About thankfulness. About intention. And mindfulness. But mostly about connection. I try to transfer this thinking about my studio life into this intention with my personal life. I reflect on the last year in my studio and also clarify my vision about what I want the next year to bring. After all, the New Year is somehow just around the corner.

I'm also simply insisting on finding more time to make things. To try new techniques. To make things with my own two hands. Creatively recharge and stay inspired. I attended a weaving class this weekend and I'm trying my hand at my first weaving; I took an infinity scarf apart four times (yes, four) before I created a knitting pattern that I actually liked; and I found minutes and hours in a busy work week to finish these linen throw pillows for my living room. I loved the Japanese printed linen fabrics so much and promised myself that I would finish these pillow covers. 

I'm giving myself permission to insist on joy being infused into my work life. That's right, joy. And to allow myself to be a beginner at things like weaving and creating basic knitting patterns to stay inspired. But I'm mostly finding a few hours here and there to recharge. So that I might have the energy to continue expanding my studio life to include more than I could have ever imagined. It feels like the only way forward.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. May your holiday be filled with gratitude, joy, maybe a little extra time for crafting, and also respite.



Boro, Patchwork, and Beloved Denim

I'm working on a new denim patchwork project inspired by my love of Boro and visible mending. Sashiko has found a firm place in my sustainable fashion journey. Not only does visible mending with Sashiko invigorate old clothing with new strength, vitality, and durability but it also provides an opportunity to make something beautiful along the way.

While my mending pile is still not at risk of disappearing anytime soon, I have started to consider the fabrics in my castoffs as raw material for new designs. Upcycling and recycling materials in fashion is not a new concept. Certainly we've all marveled over wools, denims, cashmere, and vintage cottons given new life in a patchwork project. Certainly quilting and Boro invented this many centuries ago. You might even have visited my fingerless glove DIY tutorial on this blog--it's made from sweater sleeves.

Yet there is something minimal and restrained about using just one palette, just one fabric, and just one stitch in creating a new patchwork piece. Much like Natalie Chanin's beautiful use of jersey cotton in her gorgeous handmade creations, or Kathryn Clark's impeccable Foreclosure Quilts, or the inspiring Quilts of Gee's Bend or the gorgeous contemporary work of Folk Fibers there is a timeless quality to a minimal palette filled with hand stitches. (I'm also loving this new quilt book, Unconventional & Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000. It's filled with patchwork inspiration.)

Boro falls along these lines of a minimal, modern palette that evolved out of need but certainly maintained integrity and beauty at every step. It makes me cheer. So I'm trying my hand at an upcycled Boro-inspired project made of denim, white Sashiko thread, and patchwork. I decided to fully embrace slow fashion and make the entire project sewn by hand. There are various denim scraps, pant legs, denim remnants from my local fabric store, and even denim scraps I was recently gifted at a workshop.

I have a few ideas about this project's future use but I'm going to keep that to myself for now. I want to let the patchwork continue to evolve and help determine the final shape. And that final shape will help determine its usage. I will say that a shawl, a scarf, a quilt, and a wall hanging have all recently come to mind. For now, I'm enjoying the slow and steady process of stitching denim to denim and watching the white lines morph into a web of dashes across the beloved indigo landscape.

Happy Monday, friends.



An Intimate View: The Paper Playhouse


Thank you so much for your kind and amazing words on my last post, for your emails, your comments on Facebook and Instagram, your pre-order purchases on Etsy (!!!), and all your amazing support of my very first book. Truly, thank you.

It means so much to launch this book out into the world and have it so beautifully received by all of you. I cannot wait to share more images, projects, and contributors as the weeks progress. I'm hoping that once the book is actually printed and in bookstores in January I'll even be able to share one entire project tutorial with you here. A special gift on my blog just for you.

I wanted to share just a few more images from the book. A true compilation of the gorgeous images all captured by Leslie Sophia Lindell for this project. Creating a kid's craft book is a huge undertaking--from designing the projects, making the projects, photographing the projects, scheduling the children, writing the projects/ section headers/ introductions, coordinating all the contributing artists for the gallery, and then finally hitting "send" to share that final manuscript with amazing editors at the publisher's end. It is such a journey.

But then, the editing, the copy edits, the final photo selections, the cover, the credits, and then editing it all again. Then one more time. Then once again. And now waiting for the first printed copies to arrive at my house in Oakland because it is almost time.

I'm remembering those first days of communicating with my editor last summer, before the proposal, before the contracts, well before any manuscript deadlines, and realizing how the project has morphed and expanded and contracted and somersaulted and tumbled into the book it is today. Such an amazing journey. I am so grateful for this opportunity.

Now is also this very special time to share the book with the world. To share photographs (and the photographs are such a beautiful part of this book, captured by the amazing eye of my dear friend, Leslie) and also the time to coordinate book tours online and in person, to coordinate a book launch in Oakland, but also the time to share it with all of you.

To watch it start to take on a shape and life and even breath all its own. To know that it is truly leaving the nest of my studio and beginning to take the first flights out my front door, down my street, around my neighborhood, and then migrating to much farther corners of the globe where it will be read by some of you.

After maintaining this blog for over seven years (I cannot believe it's been seven years, but it's true) it is also an incredible feeling to witness this work being made into print. In so many ways, the work of the book took shape here on my blog through the various projects I've shared over the years. As many of you know, I have a background in poetry and book arts from my time in graduate school several moons ago. My love of textiles and creative writing have been with me my entire life. Really, since I was just a young girl.

This blog and my online community are also so much a part of this first book. Yes, all of you! Even my recent work with mending, up-cycling, and sustainable arts practices have all influenced this book. Somehow, this blog, my graduate degree, my work as an artist and crafter, and my most recent work as a mother have all combined to make this first book happen.

I feel like I'm sharing a look inside my very own cells. Where the creative spaces mash up against the mother spaces and the parts of my own childhood fantasies all come together to make this book for you. So much more to share in the weeks and months to come.

Thank you so much for sharing this space with me, friends. 100 thank yous.



My First Book: The Paper Playhouse

My very first book is finally here! Well, it's finally available for pre-order and I can finally share the news with the world! After working on this project for over a year it's such a thrill to announce that I'm the author of the upcoming book, The Paper Playhouse: Awesome Art Projects for Kids Using Paper, Boxes, and Books to be published by Quarry Books in January 2015.

It's filled with projects that use up-cycled paper materials to make exciting contemporary projects for, or with, children. The projects range from my earlier work as a book artist to simple printmaking, paper sculpture, public art projects, and VW buses, Airstream trailers, Mid-Century Modern dollhouses, handmade books, mobiles, masks, and a classic lemonade stand.

Focused around accessible and everyday materials like shipping boxes, shoe boxes, junk mail envelopes, newspapers, maps, found books, and other paper ephemera, The Paper Playhouse has 22 projects aimed at inspiring families to create unique paper crafts. It includes artwork by over 20 leading contemporary artists in the curated gallery section; offers original quotes from celebrated authors, directors, and artists; and is packed with original photography by award-winning photographer, Leslie Sophia Lindell

As an added pre-sale incentive, I'm offering a special art print and signed copies on all books pre-sold through my Etsy shop. This is available for pre-orders purchased through my Etsy shop only, while supplies last before January 1, 2015. This is my way of saying, "Thank you so very much" for your pre-order support. Books are estimated to be released and available in stores in January. I cannot wait until I actually get to hold a printed version in my own hands. Dream come true.

I signed the publishing contract with Quarry Books in October 2013 and have been diligently and privately (and almost secretly) designing, making, writing, editing, re-editing, and otherwise collaborating with an amazing team of editors, designers, and publishers at Quarry. Not to mention, my dear friend and crazy-talented photographer, Leslie, was an amazing creative partner during all the photo shoots throughout this book.

In addition to the projects in the book I'm honored to have curated the gallery section to include over 20 inspiring, leading contemporary artists working with paper, boxes, or books in their professional art practice. I'll share more about these incredible artists, the book-making process, future book events, and the book's featured projects in the weeks to come.

Oh my goodness, it's real! The book is currently available for pre-sale through major online retailers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Quarry Books, and once it's officially released in January it can be ordered through your local bookshop or anyplace where books are sold. It will also remain available as a special signed copy through my Etsy shop.

A few more words from the publishers: Artist, Katrina Rodabaugh, shares her artistic training and up-cycling sensibility in this unique and inspired book, The Paper Playhouse. With simple techniques including sculpture, printmaking, bookbinding, collage, and even ideas for public art, families work through step-by-step instructions while using imagination and budding aesthetics. This book goes beyond the typical paper craft project to include contemporary design references like Mid-Century Modern dollhouses, VW buses, paper monsters, costumes and masks, and the classic lemonade stand--all made with unique style and flair!

Pinch me. It's real. This dream really did come true.