so finally, finally, i am offering a post about this amazing challenge i have committed to. the mastermind behind this is moonlight, nicki, organizes this global project that inspires makers/sewists from all over the world to construct a whole outfit entirely from locally sourced and processed materials from within one’s fibershed. (you can check out the northern california fibershed here.)

this project is exciting for so many reasons. first, a little context about what a fibershed really is. the northern california fibershed puts it this way, “Fibershed is a non-profit organization that provides experiential education that both generates awareness, and teaches the necessary skills within our community to build and sustain a thriving bioregional textile culture that functions hand-in-hand with principles of ecological balance, local economies, and regional organic agriculture.”  good, right? so there is an alternative to buying into and supporting the myriad issues that come with consuming mass produced, toxic, conventional clothing. you have heard of farm-to-table. this is soil-to-skin.

there are many projects and initiatives here in california that are exploring ways to get slow fashion into the hands of the people. there is the grow your jeans project, north face’s backyard project, and many, many more innovative projects undertaken by local producers and makers. i love living here just to be inspired by and close to the resources of this area.

and then there are our own angora bunnies. oh, how we love them. and i have bags and bags of their fiber just waiting for for a super local fiber challenge to put them to use. i have big dreams for this fiber.

the official guidelines for the #1year1outfit challenge are based on the western australian fibershed’s requirements and taken directly from this is moonlight’s post:

– the fibre must be farmed and processed wholly in southwest Western Australia (a generous 500km radius). (insert northern california for western australia)  Note that Fibreshed does allow some remote manufacturing where it is not available locally.

– all fibres must be natural

– any dyeing must use local non synthetic materials

– all fabric and clothing made must be of quality construction so as to ensure the life of the clothing is long, and not need excessive ironing or washing.

it’s so easy to say, ‘yeah! sign me up! i can do that!’ especially in an area so rich in resources as northern california.

and now i am working with the reality of how deeply i am able and willing to dive into this project. here are my challenges: i am a very, very new spinner who has yet to devote enough time to the craft to develop skill or speed. there is a lot of fiber being grown here, but it is mostly being processed far outside of our fibershed. i don’t think i am that interested in felting or knitting (or wearing) an entire dress out of local wool. i would be hard-pressed to even knit a whole sweater. (i am coming to terms with my limited time as a homeschooling mama to the under 10 set.) i would love to sew some fabric into a fabulous outfit, but there really is no fabric being produced locally from the cotton being grown here. and finally, there isn’t really local thread being made here either.

HOWEVER, that is not going to stop me. i am determined. i am creative. i am also flexible. here is what i am planning at this moment. (it really does change moment to moment. ha!)

a suede dress inspired by this image found on pinterest.

suede dress

side note: i am attending an ancestral skills gathering in a few weeks where i fully intend to learn how to process a hide into useable leather. i may be dreaming about the reality of making a dress from a raw hide that i process myself, but i am inspired. expect a full post on that adventure…

a cowl handspun from my bunnies’ fiber and local merino by a local spinner that i will befriend soon. big plans, i know. inspired, i tell you. the pattern i will use is this from purl soho.


and perhaps a long skirt using alabama chanin‘s patterns and american made organic cotton. not local to our fibershed, but definitely local to our country. i have made a few pieces using natalie chanin’s patterns and fabric and it is super fun. i do think they have turned out beautifully.

or maybe a pair of breezy pants made from sally fox‘s organic color grown cotton from marin county. the fabric was milled in japan, so that technically takes it out of the running for this project. but that’s also where a little flexibility comes in.

and it is already april. so i better get to work! i am determined. i am creative. i am flexible. deep breath. focus.

Recipe for Making One’s Mama Feel Crazy

by Scarlett and Ivy

prep: when your mother tells you you may play with water in the bath and not on the sheepskin covering the couch in the livingroom, go into the bathroom and start running a “bath.”

remain quiet, as well as cheerful and kind to your sister so as to reassure your mama that she is not needed.

when bathtub has 5 inches of warm water in it, turn water off.

add the following ingredients to the water:

  • entire 16 ounce bottle of organic rose hydrosol (smells good already)
  • all the toothbrushes and flossers you can find
  • one roll of toilet paper, shredded (thoughtfully replace roll on holder with new tp)
  • container of hair ties and barrettes
  • finger scoops of homemade organic willow salve
  • all the bath toys
  • squirts of mama’s favorite lotions
  • pieces of paper out of the recycling bin
  • travel size bottles of shampoo and conditioner
  • lavender handsoap (smelling heavenly now)
  • finger scoops of homemade organic calendula salve
  • full dispenser of cotton swabs
  • some cedar bark from the front porch (it’s raining so don’t worry about getting greens and dirt from the garden. maybe next time…)

stir with utensils from the kitchen (rubber and metal spatulas) and hair brushes.

when little sister starts loudly complaining about something, close door and reassure mama that she is fine. quickly console her. be amazed that mama buys it and stays out of the bathroom.

feel proud at the rainbow of emotions that cross mama’s face when she takes in what you have been up to. horrified at the mess. ridiculously disappointed in her 2- and 5-year-olds’ lack of discernment regarding expense. nostalgic for the potions she made as a child with her sister. resigned to the role of cleaner-upper (and cheerleader for her cleaner-upper assistants.) and ultimately, proud of the dominant maker spirit of the household.

little sister dress

whew! the holidays were a bit of a push for me. so many projects with such a clear deadline. can you relate? of course that left no time for blogging; hence, the silence here. but the handmade gifts were well received. and so much fun to give. nothing gives a mama a fuller heart than that. this mama anyway.


and as soon as all the gifts were open and the wrappings folded and put away for next year, i dove into a new dress pattern from merchant & mills’ new children’s line. the trapezette dress turned out to be the loveliest dress and fairly straightforward pattern once i figured out how to read the pattern sleeve. ha! i used a medium-weight linen and an extraordinarily soft light-weight cotton for the bodice lining. both purchased at a verb for keeping warm here in oakland, of course.

i thought i would just work on this bit by bit. you know, actually not have a timeframe. turns out it was so much fun to make and was coming together so well, i finished it in less than a day. which is really saying something with my two girls running around and asking for my attention.

and i do think she looks happy with with the results. and i was really happy with the process. such a lovely creation of a little post-holiday gift for my youngest. now one for my oldest. perhaps in red?


games and gifts

i went into my last sewing class series feeling so nervous. that first-day-back-to-school feeling. what kind of group would be gathering? what challenges might come up? would everyone like the class? or not? was i prepared enough? *just keep breathing.*

and then after all that build-up, the class was full of the most lovely, enthusiastic, grounded, and creative people! i had so much fun teaching this series. we made embroidered name wall hangings, backpacks, and the sweetest little gathered summer top from purl soho.

laelle serafina

we talk a lot about feeling frustrated and how to work with that feeling, although everyone this time around had such a high tolerance for challenge. even though the class is during what i have been calling the witching hour – that late afternoon, naptime, hungry, ready for some downtime, grumpy time. there were no tears or throwing things and we all finished our projects! it was a really sweet time.

i especially love how a class like this invites everyone to reach for their best selves. navigating the parent/child dynamic while learning something new can be so tricky and for me teaching a class with my five-year-old brings it’s own challenges. it was inspiring to see the levels of patience held by the parents and the kids. thank you all for your presence and insight.

sewing class rules:

be safe, always know where your needle is, nothing has to be perfect, take your time.

and now my next series is up on the website and ready for registration! it will also be held at a verb for keeping warm. they have such a beautiful classroom space and their whole philosophy and aesthetic is in line with my values. i love teaching there.

this will be a shorter series; just three classes in december focusing on games and gifts. projects will be pocket gnomes, finger puppets, handstitched potholders, a star garland, a felt memory game, and felt coasters. i will be trying out a slightly different structure this time – kids will be able to choose whichever project(s) they want to make instead of everyone working on the same projects at the same time. we will see how it goes.

pocketgnomes fingerpuppet potholdersstargarland

and stay tuned for a post about january‘s class series!

a mei tai story


there are some projects that get stalled and sit on your in-progress shelf for ages, right? for some reason or another they get set aside for something fresher or more pressing or easier or more inspiring or… ?

the very first woven wrap that i bought for my second daughter was oscha’s starry night raven. it quickly became the most buttery soft and supportive linen/cotton blend wrap imaginable. we used it a lot. and then she got bigger and more mobile and always has this older sister to hug and kiss and keep up with. so wrapping has gone by the wayside. *sigh* sometimes at the farmer’s market it works well to wear her, or on longer hikes or stints out in the forest during her quickly fading naptime. but i usually would put her up in our tula soft-structured carrier. i missed using our wraps.

i got a beautiful pattern for a toddler sized wrap-conversion mei tai from my lovely french designer friend perli po. (pattern here.) and then i don’t know how many months passed. i managed to finally get the courage up to cut our beloved wrap and begin sewing only when perli po had a sewing day over at her house and invited me over. i was so nervous! (again, breathing and letting go of the attachment. this one was big because what if i ruined that wrap?!) i got about halfway through sewing the mei tai together before it was time to go.

and then it sat nicely folded on my project shelf for another handful of months.

meanwhile… oscha came out with their own design of mei tai, the coorie. they are so beautiful. i got a bamboo/combed cotton blend roses anya. i’m not really one for their roses pattern, but this coorie is so beautifully handcrafted and the bamboo makes it shimmer. seriously. i almost scrapped my whole mei tai project. i wasn’t going to be making something that well handcrafted. i just don’t have the attention to detail or the skills, honestly. but i didn’t scrap it. i have such love in my heart for that first woven starry night of ours, i couldn’t just let it sit there half-done forever.

so again, perli po had a few of us fellow crafty mamas over for a sewing afternoon and that is the project i brought. i got re-inspired and again found my brave self. i almost finished it there. a couple days later i did finish it. i am SO glad i did. i remember why i loved the wrap so much. this gives us a lovely way to use it again in a kind of in between ssc and wrap sort of way. it is not as quick an up as our tula, but so much lighter weight and lower profile. and much more comfortable than i thought it would be. plus, i made it. a little bit more attachment, but also a good lesson in completing something.

a little secret: i love it just as much as that roses coorie.



she loves blue

we went camping this last weekend with our local home learning group. it was so fantastic. we went to new brighton state beach in capitola south of santa cruz. the campground was nothing super special but the beach. ah, the beach. we spent almost all of our time there. saw dolphins, seals, sea otters, sea slugs, sand pipers, and many, many sea gulls and sand crabs. all the kids formed a wild tribe of their own and did some epic digging in the sand and wave chasing and berry cake making. they even sang happy birthday to the birds. charming.

new brighton

the whole time we were there it just felt like the sweetest community. a lot of great connections were made for me and my family. the kids were all so well tended by the adults and each other and everything felt so spacious. there was time to just soak it all in.

aannnnddd, my bed felt like heaven when we got home. three nights nursing a toddler on a thermarest was a bit rough.

and now to dive into the solstice gifts tonight. my younger daughter loves blue almost as much my older one loves red. i have to admit i am feeling nervous about cutting into this lovely wool and silk. even though it is such a basic and simple pattern i really want these capes to turn out well. (letting go, letting go, i know…) big deep breath, and just dive in. it will be really fun once i do.

little red riding hood

gathering materials for making a solstice gift for my oldest.

red because that is what scarlet means. such power we have in naming our children. would she love this color if her name was not scarlett?

using this tutorial.

really hoping it turns out as lovely as it is in my imagination.

and right there is the practice for this project. releasing expectation. opening to the unexpected. to the possibility that it will be different than i imagine. and maybe…just maybe… better? and again, releasing. stating my preference and then letting it go. over and over again.

i’ll keep you posted.

gathering, preparing, imagining

so i make lists. when i feel my mind spinning out with how many ideas, plans, projects, things-to-do. then i can take one at a time. prioritize. check things off. add to it. relax into the making of it all. i’m not unique in this, i know.

my list last night so that i could sleep:

forest cabin in idaho. this oakland house and property. this new blog thingy. sewing classes. wilderness school. the kamana naturalist program. making/selling/using medicinal salves.

the categories. within each are many, many lists. and they all overlap and intertwine. of course they do.

for our wilderness school we are planning to forage. acorns to make apple cake and pancakes. bay nuts to make hot drinks and a nutella-like butter. there happens to be a coast live oak in our backyard that up until now i have been feeling rather bitter about. we call it the pokey leaf tree. not much will grow under it and it is not fun to hang out under because of all the pokey leaves which it sheds all. year. round.

yeah. and you can’t cut down large oak trees is oakland because, well, OAKland. and what a shame to just cut down such a large contributor to the ecology of this place. (ahem.) but damn. those pokey leaves. (we are getting it cut back and cleaned up by an arborist. and we will build a deck under it so we can just sweep those leaves and have a lovely shady spot to hang out under. problem solved. right?)

turns out this tree has acorns… big fat long morsels of starch that can be made into flour. it’s not one of the sweetest varieties of oak for acorns, but it is one of the fattiest. which equals richest. yum. so my girls and i went out collecting today and started the process of shelling them in preparation for the rest of the preparation. quite a process this acorn flour entails. more as we progress through all the steps.

but right now, as we peel off the shells, check for worm holes, admire the buttery yellow interior of the nuts, we dream about the apple cake made with this manna falling from the sky in our yard. we are so nourished already by this tree. gratitude.