Sunday, December 09, 2018

Kristin's Shop Update - Holiday 2018

A quick note to let you all know that I have just updated my Etsy Shop with my fresh out of the kiln Pottery and new Tea Towel designs. Hop on over to look and/or purchase gifts for friends, family or maybe yourself. 

Here are some of the new pottery pieces.


Here is my stock of Kristin designed Tea Towels. I won't be able to sew anymore until after the holidays. 


And lastly, I am a bit overstocked in my living warehouse with two of my recent books. I am running a promo on both Crafting a Patterned Home and Colorful Stitchery. If you buy one copy of a title, I will include a second copy of the same title FREE for you to gift to a friend or loved one or perhaps donate to your local library. 



I thank you all for reading and supporting my creative life here at our farm. 

Friday, December 07, 2018

Photos from 4th Holiday Open House 2018

The 2018 Open House was a wild success. It was so much fun to meet so many new people and connect with friends I only see once in a while. We were busy both days and although the finishing touches weren't completely done on time (that is me - wait til the last minute) - it all worked out fine. I don't have a lot of photos of everyone's work --- I was so busy I forgot to take many at all and remembered in the evenings when everyone was gone. My friends Gail Callahan, Alicia Hunsicker and Deborah Garner added their distinct styles to the creative and colorful flavor of our home. 

This year I had help from my friends Kay and Alexxis at the check-out counter (no photos there either) and farm friends Jess and Emily helped me hang holiday decorations because I was so behind. Miraculously I got 2 loads of pottery fired before the Open House - even if the second load didn't get unloaded until Sunday morning. It has been a difficult year for me making with Mark's surgery and slow recovery but somehow I had plenty of things to sell. 

We had a lovely spread of food -- appetizers, cheese, lamb tagine, chocolates, veggies, coffee and drinks. This Apple Harvest Cake which Gail made was a huge hit. Follow this link for the Harvest Apple Cake recipe from my blog back in 2012 - it is delicious and very easy to make. I wish I had photos of the food table because it was so beautifully presented (thanks Alicia and Deborah). 

I will be doing a shop update this weekend with pottery, tea towels and books. If you would like to know when it goes live, please sign up for my Newsletter on the top right hand side of this blog. You will get immediate notice when work is available ON-LINE. It takes a crazy amount of time to photo and list all the work because each is different and needs multiple photos and descriptions. I wish I could pot and make the same thing over and over because it would make that part easier but that would not be interesting to me.

On top of it all, this week our sheep were shorn on Tuesday and Wednesday - hence the lateness of this review post. I'll share photos of that in a couple days.

Thanks to all who came out and thank you all for your support of my creative work, life and family. XO 

Here are some photos so you get a feeling for the 2018 Open House - our 4th. 

Some of my new tea towel designs that I will be listing this weekend. 


Julia's holiday emporium - pom poms and glitter ornaments




Crewel embroidery products for sale. 


Some of our little friends came and were loving the kittens. 


Cali and Bobby asleep on the radio. They were stars.


Some of my pottery that will be listed for sale this weekend.


Ruth - who had come to one of my Creative Retreats brought her finished pomegranate printed and embroidered fabric. So beautiful!


Janet (I think that is her name) sat with the kittens on her lap for at least an hour. She was in heaven.


Our newest litter of kittens resting up after all the holding and activity they got - 



Deborah's beautiful work on the porch - 




The dining room in the evening -


The dining room table full of my handmade pottery - 


The brass chandelier became a bird's nest via the artistry of my friends Jess and Emily


Monday, November 26, 2018

Come to Our Holiday Open House this Coming Weekend - Here Are My Special Guests!

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving Holiday. We had a great visit with family and cousins. I look forward to the chaos of all the people every year. My family is quite loud (The Farmer would tell you) and so the couple of days we spend together is rather raucous but so much fun. On the Friday after Thanksgiving we continued our crafting tradition at my sister Nancy's home in New Hampshire. These two days together are really the only ones we all spend together at the same time so it is fun and memorable.

My friends Gail, Alicia and Deborah and I have been very busy making beautiful things for this coming weekend's 4th Annual Holiday Open House. I hope some of you can make it. I thought I would share some of their recent work here today.  

I'll start with Gail. Many of you probably know her as The Kangaroo Dyer if you are into yarn. She is also the author of Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece. Her book is one of the best selling craft books ever. Gail is the inventor of The Color Grid which I have written about before. Recently Gail has been dyeing silk fabrics. She will have her hand dyed yarn and silks, books, and Color Grids with her this weekend. I have a few of her brightly colored silks that I wear almost every day as scarves. They keep my neck warm, are lightweight and don't get in my way. 

Here are some of Gail's silks. Gorgeous. 



Here are some of her beautiful hand dyed yarns. 



Check out Gail's website here if you are too far away to come to the Open House. 

My neighbor Alicia Blaze Hunsicker is a Fine Artist. She is an incredibly talented painter and has exhibited widely in the Northeast. Alicia has painted in oils and most recently acrylics. Her recent work has an other-worldly quality to it. Here is some of her work and you can see more on her website here



Recently Alicia began experimenting with a new technique of art. It is much quicker for her to produce and she can lower the price point to make her art more accessible. Here is her new work....... 





Color and attention to detail has always been part of Alicia's world and I think this new work is stunning. Check out her website for more. 

My last guest is my Textile Loving Friend Deborah Garner. For years, Deborah and her partner Jay travelled the world collecting textiles from foreign lands. Their main business was supplying museums with rare tribal textiles. You can imagine how Deborah and I hit it off once we discovered our mutual love of textiles. Deborah has a wealth of knowledge and has lived quite an amazing life.  


In her textile travels, Deborah collected lots of beads and trinkets from the tribes. For this Holiday Open House, she is making jewelry out of objects from her collection. Here are some of the baubles that she has made so far. 






You can check out Deborah's website here and see some of the incredible textiles she has collected. Here is the link to her Jewelry page which has many beautiful earrings and necklaces for sale too. 

So that is a little preview of what we have in store for this coming weekend. I will be sharing some of my finished work later this week as it cools down from the latest kiln firing. Fingers crossed the weather cooperates for us all. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Ceramics, Snow, A New to Me Podcast

I've been busy painting ceramics...... getting ready for our 4th Annual Holiday Open House on December 1-2 here at our farm. 


While decorating, I discovered a new podcast called Food Schmooze with Faith Middleton. She has co-hosts with her each show and they talk about food and wine. They are very entertaining and have been good company as I paint more pots. Frequently there will be a cookbook author on too. The show with Ina Garten is particularly good. 

Mom and I are going to do this as they spoke about on a recent show -- Make Ahead Turkey Gravy. It always seems that noone wants to make the gravy for the turkey once it is all ready. Looks like a stellar idea.

If you are new to podcasts, I highly suggest downloading the Stitcher App on your phone or tablet. It is easy to navigate and you can add new shows and take away easily from your Favorites. Check it out. 


We have had our first snow. I will admit - I am not ready for winter to begin. I'm okay with snow in January but November is too early. Many of the sheep are still out to pasture and they dig through the snow to eat the grass. They are also being fed big round bales of hay. 



Next week, the sheep will be moving to the winter barns. The shearers are coming. I am begging out this year because I have my Open House the same week and I do not have an inch of time to spare. Hopefully The Farmer will find some people to help and the place will not be a complete disaster to clean up. Fingers crossed on that. 


He is doing a little better. He drove the tractor for the first time in months and was able to bring a bale of hay from a field to the barns. Yesterday he helped me feed hay and this morning he said he doesn't hurt too bad and thinks he can do a little more. Physical therapy is going good for him. He loves getting out and feeling like he is making a little progress. 

Hope you are staying sane during the holiday run-up. My thoughts are with all the folks in California who have lost their homes. I cannot imagine how awful that must be. So sad. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all if I don't get here again before. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Preparing for The 4th Annual Holiday Open House

Things have been busy, busy, busy here. Mark's health after the pulmonary embolism diagnosis seems to be improving a little at a time. Scary stuff. He has re-started Physical Therapy and is so much happier that he has a place to go a couple times a week. Each time he has PT he sees little improvements. Thank goodness. 

I have been embedded in my basement studio painting as many pieces of pottery as I can every day. Here is a photo of some pieces that will be bisque fired - hopefully this weekend and then glaze fired again before the 4th Annual Open House



Some days (like yesterday) I accomplished NOTHING because I had to do the last Tuesday Farmers Market in Northampton. Talk about frustrating - it was very cold and the traffic was so slow. The best part of the day was talking to the other vendors who I will not see again until next spring. 

On Saturday, I will be selling our Farm Raised Lamb at the LAST Amherst Farmers Market of the 2018 season on the Common from 8 to 1:30. The weather looks to be decent and so I am hoping for a good busy day. Farm raised lamb and Kristin's Tea Towels. Come if you are local! Would love to see you. 

Here is the flyer I prepared for the Open House. I think it looks good. Nice and colorful.


I have even created a Facebook event that you can find here.

We may be having a "weather event" - snow and sleet on Thursday night. I am not looking forward to that. We just got 4 cords of wood delivered - thank goodness. It was tough finding it this year. Need to get it covered up before it gets wet and full of snow and turns to ice. 

Next week, we will again hosting Thanksgiving with lots of my family. So many of Julia's cousins are now making their way in the world. It will be fun to catch up with them and my sisters, brothers-in-laws, cousins, and our Mom. I'm picking up the turkeys on Monday. I had to get a new oven because the 18 year old one only had 2 burners that worked. I like the one I got so far. The turkey will be the test. It has a gas oven which I haven't had since our old house. 

Hope your week is going decent. My prayers for the folks displaced by those insane fires in California. 

Thursday, November 01, 2018

The End.....

It finally happened here in western Massachusetts - a killing frost. It was late this year and some odd bits are hanging on here and there but Monday morning when we awoke, the grass and fields outside were covered with white frost. My beautiful colorful garden is done for the year. It is such a bittersweet day - but there is always next year if you are a gardener. 








The normal gorgeous autumn color in western Massachusetts has been lacking this year. We have experienced massive amounts of rain constantly which has made haying very difficult. Mold and fungus have been rampant on the leaves of the trees and in people's homes. I do not remember another season like this. Two years ago drought, now rain rain rain. Finally the other evening when I was working in my pottery studio, I witnessed a brief glimpse of gorgeous fall color. And it was brief as the sun set onto the horizon. 



A killing frost signals the end to the growing season. It means that the sheep will soon need to be moved to their winter barns but we will wait on that as long as we can because there is still green grass growing. We have found it necessary to supplement some of the sheep with big bales of hay. They do not particularly want to eat it - they prefer green grass but if they are hungry enough they pick at it. 


When I say "we" I usually mean "The Farmer" or me but this year has been so challenging. Luckily we have a couple of Farm Angels - Jason and Ryan - who have been helping us out this year as Mark tries to get over his hip replacement surgery. Last week I had to rush him to the hospital at 5 in the morning. He was in severe pain and could barely breathe. After a day in the ER, he was admitted to the hospital with a pulmonary embolism in both lungs. He is out now and recuperating at home but he isn't able to do much at all. 

All these setbacks and so called recovery are making me think more and more about how we are going to carry on this farm this year through the winter lambing season. The shearers are supposed to come at the end of November. Mark won't be able to do anything and I'm thinking we should put it off a bit. Yes we could pay people to help but that is expensive and lambing is a tenuous time with life and death happening every day. Someone who isn't experienced with lambing would not be a lot of help. 

And so it goes at the farm. I don't want to be a downer but as you all know - everyone in the world goes through challenging times and this is one of those times for us. The only thing that is keeping me sane is the making I am doing in my pottery studio and at the sewing machine hemming tea towels and seeing my kind customers at the two farmer's markets I have been doing this year in Amherst and Northampton.

On a positive note, I have decided to again host our 4th Annual Holiday Open House here at Leyden Glen Farm on December 1/2 from 10-4. As per usual, I am doing this with some of my local artist and textile friends. I'll be posting more on that subject soon. For now - here is the flyer that I worked on yesterday. 

Thursday, October 04, 2018

TUTORIAL - Design Your Own Labels for Tea Towels to Print On Spoonflower

I have been designing fabric for my Kristin Nicholas Tea Towel Collection for the past 3 years. I sell them around the holidays and sometimes on-line. The first year I designed, sewed and sold them, it was an experiment. It went okay so last year I designed a few new fabrics. Those did well and I was able to offer the leftovers on-line. This year, I have been designing more fabrics and I am really excited about the new designs - more on them to come. 

I knew that I needed to put care instruction labels on the tea towels to be proper. Labels are also a good way to have an "identity." I started looking around on-line to see if there were any labels available cheaply with the proper fiber content and washing instructions. I couldn't find anything and really didn't want to order thousands of ugly little non-woven fabric labels. 

After wasting time looking around and checking with some label companies, I decided to design some myself and have them printed at Spoonflower - the place that prints the fabric for my Tea Towels. Once I made that decision, it didn't take me long to get the design together. I cut and folded some fabric to decide on sizing and then opened up Adobe Illustrator. (I could have also done this in Photoshop, but I am a little quicker with Illustrator.)  At the end of this post, I have a JPEG template you can use if you want to make a similar label to have printed for items you sew. 

I knew I wanted the label to have no raw edges. I wanted to slip the label into the hem quickly as I sew. 

Here are what the labels look like on the tea towels. 


Here is the backside showing care instructions and country of origin. 


Here is the fabric I had printed. The digital file I built was 6 labels up in 5 different colors - 2 labels in off-white, then yellow, chartreuse, turquoise and orange. Having different colors would make the labels easier to cut. I also added black cutting lines to make it even easier for me to cut the fabric. 


I purchased 1 yard of the basic cotton and my design yielded 192 labels. The per label cost was 7 cents per label (not including shipping - I ordered during one of their Free Shipping Promos). Next time I order, I may change the black box lines to something lighter but I am pretty happy with them. 

Here is my process for readying the labels to set into the Tea Towel seams. 

Step 1: Use a rotary cutter and cut a vertical strip of labels. 



Step 2: Using a steam iron, turn under each long side of the label strips by 1/4" and iron. No need to sew the seam down - a real timesaver. 


Step 3: Cut the labels apart. I use scissors because they are quicker on the small pieces. 


Step 4: Fold the pressed labels in half with the long sides touching, wrong sides together and seams inside. 


Here are my piles of labels sorted by color - ready to go into the Tea Towel seams. You can also see the backside with the care instructions and fiber content at the bottom of the photo. 



Here is a jpeg file which you can use as a guide for designing your own labels. This is my one color version. You can print them in as many colors as you want depending on how you design your digital file. Make sure your file is 150 ppi (pixels per inch) as that is what Spoonflower prints at. 


I have been sewing a batch of the Tea Towels and the labels work perfectly. I barely have to slow down as I slip the label under the hem and attach it onto the tea towel. I think they look pretty good. Maybe next time I will try a different one of the Spoonflower substrate fabrics but for now, I have 192 labels to make 192 Tea Towels complete with my own logo.