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While I was in NYC this last week, I saw some spectacular things- I couldn’t have asked for a better guide, a great friend from high school, who painstakingly looked up the long list of places I wanted to go and charted them out on a map with me- then she even carried me along at NYC speed to find all the stores. It would have taken me weeks to find them all- and we pretty much covered them all in two days thanks to her brilliance.

Here is the list of places I just HAD to see, and I would suggest them to anyone with a crafty heart:

: HABU :
A Japanese textile/yarn store, filled with baskets and shelves of goodies that you can’t resist. I somehow wound myself up in over $100 worth of steel-cored wool and bamboo lace-weight yarn that is SO amazing. If they hadn’t been on the verge of closing the store for the day, I’m sure I would have done a lot more damage than that.
135 West 29th Street, Suite 804, New York, NY 10001

: PURL SOHO :
This fabric store holds a special magic for me- I discovered its blog in Japan when I needed resources and methods, and it delivered! Finally getting to the store itself was incredible! Their Japanese fabric selection is really well curated, and their Liberty of London fabric…. *drool* I didn’t even look at their colorful yarns, and crewel needle embroidery! I accidentally spent too much in here, too. Oops.
459 Broome Street, New York, NY 10013

: KITEYA SOHO :
This store leans a bit more to my love for Japan: if you want a kimono, a hair pin, or anything beautiful that screams, “Japan!” then this is your store. It is across the street from Purl Soho, and if you need a unique gift, it’s pretty spectacular. I even discovered a new artist there, Fiore Tomoco, who I’ll talk up in a later post.
464 Broome Street, NY, NY 10013

: Kinokuniya Bookstore :
If you love crafts- nothing beats a Japanese craft book. I’ve listed them on my blog before, talking about how easy it is to read their lace crochet instructions, but all of their craft books are eye-candy, so I really recommend heading for the basement level and getting your hands on some. Sadly, they’re double the price they are in Japan, but still worth it! They also have that awesome colorful masking tape, and lots of Japanese stationery, here, so stock up!
1073 Sixth Ave., New York, NY 10018

: New York Central Art Supply :
Obviously having never lived in NYC, I don’t know all the art stores, but I chose this one based on reading about it in a blog. It’s a small shop with a lot of art supplies jammed in! I truly enjoyed the 2nd floor where they had all the paper- lots of paper! I finally found some of the golden Florentine paper my father likes so much.
62 Third Ave., NY, NY 10001

: MUJI SOHO :
For more Japanese stationery that screams minimalist design, head here, to MUJI. MUJI is short for Mujirushiihin, meaning, “No brand, good quality.” Their motto is, “It’ll do.” Everything they make is made with the simplest design possible with no marking of their brand anywhere on the product. Do refreshing! I adore their rollerball pens that come in 7 colors, and always stock up. They make great sketchbooks, too!
455 Broadway, New York, NY 10013

: Tinsel Trading :
I stumbled on this store, which stole my breath away! Set up like a French market of sorts, the antique quality of the shop exuded from every drawer, shelf, and rack! Very well displayed, and a delight to stroll through. I found a lot of unique threads, vintage silk flowers, and endless trims (a whole wall full) as well as from golden paper angel wings I’d been looking for. Wonderful!

Of course there is always Anthropologie! 4 locations in Manhattan- though I only got to the one near Rockerfeller Center. Worth it! I got teal heels! Woo-hoo!

I could go on forever about other shops I stepped in to along the way, but I’ll hold off there. These were the must-sees of my trip, and I highly suggest them to anyone who has a day in Manhattan. Best of luck!

Last week I said my good-byes to a place I’d worked for exactly one year and a day. Funny how these things work out. Working there was hard- emotionally abusive, and did a lot to embitter me. I was fairly naive coming in to this line of work, and having been in the sensitive and ridiculously polite land of Japan for 2 years, I was not ready for the barrage of the reality of man. I honestly believe that everyone should be a server at some point in their life- like military service- just so that they understand how the restaurant industry works and don’t treat future servers ill for reasons not their fault. Folding up my apron at the end of my last shift, I was overwhelmed with relief that I’d probably never have to work in a restaurant again, and I took a few pictures to reminds me of the good things in my job so that my visual memory, at least, would be positive.

I saw some really great graffiti in New York, and while I only brought home two pictures, I think they convey the kind of graffiti I’m talking about. They really made me smile, unlike the usual stuff which looks so angry and destructive. I wish all graffiti had this effect on me! What a nice world it would be!

As my personal friends who follow my blog already know, I’m moving soon, and because of that, I’ve been making a list of things I have to do before I go. One of them is go to New York while it’s still only a $20 bus ride away- another is going to the Torpedo Factory down in Virginia, and of course a last-minute endurance race around the 19 Smithsonians of DC.

But one of my more material desires came to pass when I drove down to G-Street Fabrics this Labor Day weekend for their 20% off sale. It was my ticket to finally buying all those patterned fabrics that have been haunting me for the past year (okay, maybe it’s been less time than that, but it feels like a whole year). I regret that I never got to take the pattern-drafting course they offer, but I imagine there must be a class that covers that in Colorado… somewhere.
After an hour of careful, soul-searching deliberation, I said my goodbyes to the bolts at G-Street Fabric, and picked out the chosen few to taken home with me.

This and above from Moda’s line, “A Morris Tapestry.” I became fascinated with William Morris on a trip to Pasadena last fall when I saw the Gamble House by Greene and Greene. That house flung open doors in my mind that before had only been open a crack, and my love and appreciation for the Arts and Crafts Movement became full-fledged. The Huntington Library in Pasadena also celebrated a bit of the Morris design and my impression of his twirling vines and hidden birds became cemented firmly in my heart. I have seen William Morris’ designs popping up everywhere lately, and I think it’s because it’s his 150 year anniversary. At any rate, I love seeing it, and I’m all the more excited to have some of his fabric. I know just the quilt I want to make with them.

The fabrics above are pure cotton lawn. They look a lot like Liberty Lawn, but were half the price (Still expensive though!). I can’t recall the designer’s name, but I love their bright patterns! The joy of cotton lawn is how soft and smooth it is, most like silk, without being completely impractical. So, what am I going to do with these? Oh… I’ll think of something. ^_^

Is G-Street Fabrics the only place that sells these fabrics? No. Could I have bought all of these online? Of course. But I’m an old-fashioned sort of girl, and there’s nothing better than a piece of fabric from a specific place to remind you of the good times you had there. Years from now I’ll be sitting on a quilt, and one of the fabrics will catch my eye. I’ll touch that patch of fabric like touching a memory and think, “I remember that fabric store… I remember DC.” And it’ll all have been worth it.

Fun fun! I’ve been looking for a watering can for my indoor plants, but they are all either too big or too plastic and I just want a small metal thing to do the job. Not too hard to find, right? Well, apparently I haven’t been looking in the right places.
So on a recent trek to Target I found a super cheap bright pink metal watering can. Whoa!
Of course I had to make it mine- so I went about personalizing it in the following fashion. By the way, this would make a great father’s day present if your dad is a gardener!

Step one:
I drew out a bird shape and some cursive lettering on medium weight paper.

Step Two:
Roughly cut out the design, not the details, then adheared double-sided tape to the back of the paper. Warning: the tape must have a removable backing on it to keep it from sticking to your work surface.

Step Three:
Cut out the design with an exacto knife on a cutting mat. You want a sharp knife so that the blade doesn’t just pull the paper away from the tape.

Step Four:
Remove the backing of the tape.

Step Five:
Stick the design wherever you want on whatever clean, flat surface you desire. Smooth the paper down so that all the edges are stuck well.

Step Six:
Take a trip outside, set it on some newspapers that have been spread out on the grass. Hold your pray can fairly far away while you spray- and be sure to get all angles (I didn’t get under the spout very well). This works better if you have a workbench or something taller to spray paint on. Let it dry!

Step Seven:
Once dry, check for any spots you missed. None? Great! Gently pull off the paper and double-sided stick tape. It shouldn’t put up much of a fight. Wa-la! You’ve got a personalized piece!

So easy! And why stop at watering cans?

My sister recently asked for a set of decorated bobby pins for her birthday, and I was super happy to make them. I really like it when people ask me to make them something specifically because a.) I know they’re going to like it for the most part and b.) I get excited about making it.

I’d made a few bobby pins in the past and got frustrated by the wire getting in my way, so this time I went and got some 22 gauge wire and it was much less bulky than before. I just don’t trust glue on these guys- I’ve had bad glue experiences in my life, so if I can wire or sew it, I will. That being said, I wonder how sewing and wrapping beads on a bobby pin would work… hmm….

I also got together with my mom and started making cute girly headbands for our annual craft fair in Littleton. Making corker bows is a little addicting!

Then I got to thinking about my crochet motifs and thought I’d really like to make those into hair doo-dads. So I set about it and came up with alligator clips covered in lace ribbon- they’re much more sturdy than a bobby pin, and they actually stay in my hair, which I consider to be the best test of all for hair clips. I’m excited to see how it all turns out!

While home in Colorado last, my mother and I did the craft circuit and I got to hit up Hobby Lobby for the brightly colored crochet thread that is SO hard to find! The brand is called Lizbeth, and from what I can tell they were going out of stock at the store I was visiting, making me wonder if they were going to cease purchasing them. On a quick Google search it looks like they are available at Joaans, Hobby Lobby, and Hanncock, but who knows what each store stocks.

I found the most thread for sale, here, at Zig-Zag Corner: Tatting. So many colors! So little time!

My mother bought me quite a few balls of thread and even gave me some for Easter, so I’ve got lots of new crocheting to get busy with! I’ve done a handful of flowers since then- all made up, silly, and lop-sided, but I really need to get back to my book of patterns!

If anyone else knows a reliable brand, let me know! I’m all ears.