1. making myself at home

    July 4, 2013 by mrsjennyryan

    Time certainly flies.

    I have about a zillion thoughts I need to share about where I’ve been and why…and how this started as a straight-up craft blog but I started neglecting it when I felt frustrated and penned-in—because it didn’t really feel like “home” for me here. Like it wasn’t a completely honest or well-rounded representation of me to have a blog that was primarily a crafty venture. Cuz I enjoy blathering about and obsessing over OH so much more than that. Pop culture and gossip. Great books and my artistic fixations. Killer food and inner demons. Real life shit.

    I felt frustrated that I wasn’t allowing myself to talk openly about things going on in my life, like how I was recovering mentally and physically after giving birth to a stillborn baby girl who was almost 6 months old. I found the balls to write about it for xoJane, where I wrote countless other things for about a year, but after writing that fateful article I went MIA there too.

    Because? Well, the night I wrote that article was the night I took a pregnancy test that told me I was pregnant again. And I was terrified. My high-risk pregnancy was closely monitored, punctuated by daily injections, weekly blood tests, and a month-long bout of bedrest—and culminated with an emergency c-section as my daughter Vivian Anastasia Ryan made her untimely (yet deeply welcomed) appearance a little over three months early. She weighed 735 grams, was shorter than a Barbie doll, and had deep red skin so thin you could see the veins beneath it. And she was amazing.


    After spending the first 10.5 months of her life in two different hospitals, fighting various infections and bouncing around on multiple types of ventilators doing their best to keep her underdeveloped and fragile lungs expanded, she was finally given a tracheostomy and g-tube last November and began to thrive in earnest. She is expected to have the trach until she is 2 or 3, when time and growth has allowed new and healthy lung tissue to outnumber the damaged stuff. She came home at last on March 21, 2013 and turned one in May. She is growing—flourishing even, at home—and blowing our minds on a daily basis.


    So yeah…that’s been my reality lately and that’s where I’ve been. I’m hoping to share a lot more details about this stuff here over the coming weeks…months…years. Who knows? And I reserve the right to talk about frivolous shit as well. Here’s hoping you won’t mind joining me.

    PS: This blog is full of broken links, outdated info, and is generally a mess. Bear with me as I remodel…

  2. best blogs? really?

    June 29, 2011 by mrsjennyryan

    Hmm…looks like an interesting feature in the latest issue of Quilter’s Home magazine (June/July 2011). “55 Best Blogs”, eh? I might need to take a closer peek at that.

    Well now, that is supremely flattering. Thank you guys so much for including me on this fabulous list. I don’t feel very deserving considering what a sporadic blogger I’ve been lately, but this gives me something to live up to—so gracias for the motivation!

  3. advanced improvisational patchwork with denyse schmidt

    by mrsjennyryan

    Improvisational patchwork blocks made by LA Modern Quilt Guild Members

    So, I’ve totally been holding out on you guys. I don’t think I ever told you I was signed up to do an Advanced Improvisational Patchwork workshop with Denyse Schmidt herself! The LA Modern Quilt Guild flew her out to do a talk at Art Center and to teach a couple of workshops for our members. Participants were chosen by lottery and I feel so lucky to have made it in!

    (I’m bottom row, 2nd from left, totally wearing my woad-dyed scarf!)

    Photo by Alissa Haight Carlton

    The workshop happened this past Sunday at Sew Modern, and there were 13 of us taking part. Apart from it being an amazing experience to be able to learn from and get inspired by Denyse, it was wonderful to spend the entire day sewing and creating and critiquing alongside my fellow quilt guild members. We had a lot of fun.


  4. Vintage Craft Workshop Winner

    May 19, 2011 by mrsjennyryan

    Just so this post isn’t purely text, I thought I’d share this quickie iPhone snapshot of some fabrics I picked up recently from Sew Modern over on the West Side. How lovely are these?! They are by Heather Moore, aka Skinny LaMinx, and are produced by the organic fabric company Cloud 9. I’m pretty psyched for their upcoming Julia Rothman prints too, I’ve gotta say!

    OK so there’s a bit of eye candy for you…now for the winner of the Vintage Craft Workshop giveaway! The Random Number Generator chose comment #15, from “Heidi aka Digital Misfit“. Please e-mail me with your mailing address, Heidi, and Chronicle will send you your book. Thanks for playing, everyone!

  5. Sweatin’ to the Oldies

    May 15, 2011 by mrsjennyryan

    You know, guys…I know I usually talk crafts on this blog, but I had the kind of morning that sort of defies all explanation and categorization. Because I spent the morning WORKING OUT WITH RICHARD FREAKING SIMMONS. That’s right, if you live in Los Angeles you can take advantage of his fabulous aerobics studio, “Slimmons”, located in Beverly Hills. He will kick your butt for 75 minutes, starting with fast-paced aerobics and ending with weights, crunches, and push-ups. Afterwards he’ll pose for photos and sign your Disco Sweat dvds (I brought mine from home!). All this magic for a mere $12. Yeah…pretty much amazing!

    Naturally, I bought an “I SWEAT WITH RICHARD” tank top emblazoned with his face on my way out. I think I need to go all Crafty Chica on it with some sequins and glitter to wear on my next visit! Who’s with me???

    PS: Did I mention he showed up in a red patent leather “Michael Jackson in Thriller” outfit, and took the jacket off to reveal a sequined leotard? Oh Richard….you da man!

  6. vintage craft workshop

    May 12, 2011 by mrsjennyryan

    I have been through a lot with Ms. Cathy Callahan, better known in crafty circles as renowned craft blogger Cathy of California. We originally met through the craft fair I used to organize, Felt Club. She had applied for one of our earliest events, and her application immediately stood out in a crowd of lookalike jewelry designers and ironic t-shirt makers. I simply had to know what the story was with this kooky lady making the colorful mushroom pincushions and googly-eyed cupcake toppers.

    I’ve gotten to know that kooky lady’s story pretty well over the years as we’ve gone on to share many experiences together…from throwing those old craft fairs of mine to traveling to brand new ones in other cities. From hunting down veggie burgers at roadside stands while thrift shopping on the outskirts of L.A. to marveling yet again at the beauty of the “It’s a Small World” ride on a trip to Disneyland. Scoping out German glass glitter in Berkeley and serving as craft judges at the County Fair together. She’s just a good lady, a great friend, and I couldn’t be happier that she’s just released a book of her very own! It’s called Vintage Craft Workshop…and let me tell you, this is a lady that knows her vintage crafts!

    I can’t think of another person with the depth and breadth of knowledge on the subject of vintage crafting, especially when it comes to hunting down information about the originators of the whole scene. There were many amazing ladies who were instrumental in creating and expanding the crafts movement of the 1960s and 70s, and it’s wonderful seeing Cathy pay homage to these innovators in her book. There are profiles on some highly awesome designers like Gemma Taccogna, Enid Collins, and Erica Wilson—women whose influence can still be felt today.

    And of course…there are the projects! Vintage Craft Workshop features 24 “remixes” (so to speak) on old school crafts. Somehow the assemblage of craft world superstars—folks like Robert Mahar, Susan Beal (who has two great new books out I’ll tell you about soon!), Diane Gilleland, Erika Kern, Hannah Kopacz, Susie and Heidi Bauer—have managed to take seemingly “retro” projects and techniques like string art and découpage and turned them into something entirely fresh and new. Whether you like to sew, paint, crochet, do paper crafts, or all of the above—this book has got you covered.

    And okay…yeah…I’m featured in there too! Cathy asked me to create a project based off the idea of turning old bleach bottles into string dispensers. I decided a cardboard oatmeal canister would be a better fit for today’s crafters and cooked up this little birdhouse covered in burlap with floral details stitched from wool felt, Liberty scraps, and glass beads. I love how they styled it for the book—all the photos (by Meiko Takechi Arquillos) are downright dreamy.

    I’m so happy to have been included in this book, and happier still that Chronicle Books has generously offered to give one away to a lucky reader of this here blog. Do you have a favorite “vintage” style craft…or one you want to try? Let me know in the comments. This time next week I’ll pick a comment at random and you’ll win a free copy of the book. Be sure to use your e-mail address when commenting…good luck!

  7. cross stitched inspiration

    April 23, 2011 by mrsjennyryan

    I somehow missed this image when it was making the blog rounds a while back, but found it via my pal Jenny Hart’s blog on the Sublime Stitching site. This blown-up cross stitch mural was painted by designer Eline Pellinkhof and I couldn’t love it more! Something about blowing up and hand-painting something as “fussy” as a pink rose turns it into something unexpected and thoroughly modern. I am utterly inspired!

    On a simliar note, how great are Jenny’s new designs for iPhone cases by Uncommon? The blue one is definitely on my wish list when I need to replace my current case. I think they’re sweet but not at all saccharine, which is a delicate balance she strikes oh so well. On a related note, I’m gonna have some exciting Sublime Stitching stuff to give away on this here blog soon, so stay tuned for that.

    While I was nosing around on the internet looking at fun cross-stitched stuff, I came across these pop-culture inspired patterns from Pixel People. That teeny Admiral Akbar in the Star Wars set rocks so hard. “IT’S A CRAFT!!”

  8. woad workshop

    April 19, 2011 by mrsjennyryan

    I was recently invited to take part in a natural woad-dyeing workshop produced by Kaari Meng of French General, and it was fantastic. If you don’t know what woad is—and unless you’re a Medieval-era European you might not!—just pop on over to the CRAFT blog today to read all about my experience.

  9. how to: vintage doily easter basket

    April 12, 2011 by mrsjennyryan

    Looking for a simple way to create an adorable Easter basket? I’ve got you covered over on the CRAFT blog today, with my how-to project that uses vintage doilies and fabric scraps to create a retro catch-all you can use for candy or whatever tickles your fancy. Hope you like!

    P.S. I’ve missed you! The internet was out at my apartment for a week while we switched providers. I’m so happy now that we have switched to broadband from DSL. It’s like I just emerged from Amish land and I’m now blogging from the freaking moon!

  10. denyse schmidt for mccall’s patterns

    April 2, 2011 by mrsjennyryan

    So it appears that Our Lady of Improv, Denyse Schmidt, has a new pattern out with McCall’s, which enables even those who are scared of “going rogue” with quilting to create a project that looks wonderfully random and artistic. Really nice!

    And no…I haven’t forgotten about the D.S. I Love You challenge! The quilt I’m putting together now is a gift so I can’t share process photos until I’m all done. But trust me, see it you shall!