Friday, November 30, 2012

Quiet time

I hope that you have a delightful weekend. While I wish I could spend more time here this weekend-

Photo Credit Kandy M. Christensen
I am ecstatically happy that Meandering Design will be participating in the Crave Holiday Party. It is from 10AM-3PM on Saturday, December 1st at Belle Plaine Studio (2014 West Belle Plaine Avenue, Chicago). There will be a ton of fabulous fashionable vendors and food trucks. I lurve food trucks. If you are interested I have some VIP tickets available and I can add you to the list. Drop me an email at KMC

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ethical consumption

I believe in human rights. I spent a year in Iraq working for human rights, so they do mean a lot to me. I have a firm belief in the United Nations. I believe that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a document that should inform how all governments treat their citizens.  That includes the United States.

A fire broke out in a factory in Bangladesh and killed over 100 workers. This, unfortunately, is a normal occurrence. There were no emergency exits and people jumped to their death. Working conditions are very very poor and there are little to no regulations to protect peoples rights.

There is something you can do about it. First please recognize the true cost of consumption. When you buy a $20 shirt you aren't getting a good deal, you are taking away someone else's right to a living wage and safe living conditions. A shirt does not cost $20 to make.

Buy from companies that pay a living wage. Make your dollars count for something beyond money in a  corporate suits pocket.

Buy less. Really, you can do it. I spent a year not buying anything new, well, except for some underwear. I should have made underwear out of old tshirts. 

I recognize that it isn't always an option because handmade can be more expensive, but buy handmade. There are so many artisans out there with beautiful goods. Plus if you are buying less, you will have enough money to buy handmade goods.

Upcycle! Change something worn out or something from the thrift store into something delightful. Oh and we have a class for that. 

There are so many fabulous holiday markets in Chicago. Come check out the Crave Holiday Craft Fair Saturday, December 1st from 10AM-3PM at Belle Plaine Studio, 2014 W. Belle Plaine Ave. Meandering Design will be there with bells on. KMC

In case you are interested here are the Articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights related to right to work-

Article 23.
  • (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  • (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  • (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
  • (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests. Article 24.
  • Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.                                                                                                           Article 25.
  • (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
  • (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sunny side of the street

I am not by nature a glass is half full type of gal. If I were to pick a song lyric to appropriately describe my mood it would be "I'm only happy when it rains, I'm only happy when it's complicated". I scoff at puppies, kittens and unicorns. I was jaded by the time I was 14. When someone says to me "believe in your dreams" I wonder what their agenda could possibly be. Yet, I'm having to let go of that attitude because I'm starting to believe in my dreams. There has been a seismic shift in the way I view the world. It did not happen overnight and it also did not happen without going through some of the most painful experiences in my life and crying a river of tears, but I'm starting to see that life is full of endless paths and possibilities. KMC

Photo Credit Kandy M. Christensen

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The coming out of a "localcycler"

I must confess!  It has been brewing little by little inside of me since I was quite young growing up in Puerto Rico.  It is time for me to come out and share with you that yes, it is in my nature, it is what I am supposed to be, I, I am a... LOCALCYCLER!

The blame and inspiration goes to: all of the trips to buy produce and meat at the local markets; watching my mom sew some of our clothes; the radio that my grandfather rigged up and managed to power with a car battery; buying cheese from the guy who would ride his bicycle by our apartment building yelling out the types of cheeses that he had for sale; the smell of the carrot cakes that my mom sold to friends and friends of friends; eating freshly pressed tofu and watching how it is made; eating at small restaurants that members of my family owned; and so much more.

I blame it all on the experiences that life has brought me, and I am grateful.

Localcycling is not new, in fact, it is old-school remixed!  Buying local, in my opinion, is at the heart of localcycling.  Supporting local businesses is not just a sound choice for the economy of your community, it is also a way to strengthen that community. There is much more to locacycling than meets the eye.

Remember to...

... buy local!  It gives you the opportunity to meet the people who make what you are buying, harvest what you are eating and who are proud of their products.  Working at the farmers market here in Vancouver and talking to small business owners has given me the opportunity to appreciate the people who are passionate about what they produce and create.  Those exchanges have guided me to channel my love into producing quality locally made products.

... reduce!  Reduce what you throw out in the trash.  Composting is a great way to get raw material for gardening.  Now a days, even people living in small spaces can compost.  Look in your community and online for information.  I have a compost bin outside and I am looking forward to using the composted soil next spring for the garden.  For information on composting indoors, here is an example...  Also, for those of you in Chicago check out the Urban Worm Girl (  

... reuse and upcycle!  Before you throw clothes, furniture, and everything out in the dumpster, see if you can use it to make other things that you have in your "to buy" list.  You can also donate instead of throwing things out, or list it on Craigslist or Freecyle.   If you are not sure about how to upcycle, you can always take classes like those offered by us at Meandering Design ( and/or look online.  There are many instructional videos and great ideas out there. Like Meandering Design on Facebook because we are constantly sharing upcycling ideas.

... recycle!  Separate your trash and make it easy for yourself and others to take recyclables to the recycling plants in your community.  Here in Vancouver we have two great groups working on recycling, FreeGeek ( and Our community bikes (  I have volunteered in both, donate to them and buy stuff at their shops. In Chicago there is a great group called West Town Bikes that works with youth in Humboldt Park and they can always use donated bikes (

... barter and trade!  A great thing about being involved in your community is that you get to know who produces what, so talk to them!  You may be producing or about to throw out something that they can use and may be willing to trade.  I have traded vegetables, cooking herbs, almond croissants and much more. 

It has and it still is an awesome learning experience.  One that I am happy, thrilled and proud to share with you.  


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Stockings- not those kind!

I have to make a disclaimer. I am not the type of person who puts up their Christmas tree at Thanksgiving or finishes her Christmas shopping early and I would rather not hear Christmas carols until Christmas. With that said, when you are making things by hand you have to start early!

I made Christmas stockings and they were fun to make. If anyone is interested in taking a Christmas stocking class drop me a line at I wanted to tell the story behind these stockings. I made them because a friend of mine was interested in making one for her son's first Christmas. I was going to make one to give her, but instead she's going to come over and sew one herself.

These stockings were made with joy and they were also made out of materials that people gifted to me. For example, the turqoise blue and silver fabric was given to me from my ex-boyfriend (we're still friends!). He was a mover and someone was getting rid of this large bolt of fabric and he brought it home to me. I have had it for almost ten years now and I did not know what to do with it. I finally made myself a Christmas tree skirt out of it and I love the turqoise against my silver tree. I figured it would make a great Christmas stocking too. It is lined with a bit of fabric that Margie from Red-Belly gave me (check out her handmade belts and belt buckles because they are wicked cool).

The grey and green plaid is another piece of fabric from Margie and it is lined with fabric my friend Carey gave me when she was cleaning out her craft closet.

The final stocking is a bit of 1970's plaid that Kate from Strong Wear (she has fabulous hats) gave me and is lined with some more of Carey's fabric.

You can find Christmas stockings in the shop.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I may have mentioned that I want to open up a craft co-working space. Right now Meandering Design's focus has been on selling clothing and accessories, teaching sewing lessons and opening up my space for people to come hang out and sew. I have been working to spread the word about Meandering Design and thank you all so much for your help with that. I am an introvert who is really good at acting like an extrovert (that statement alone is worth a whole blog post), but I have been working hard to go to events and meet people. While it has been challenging for me to go out into the world to networking events and promote Meandering Design I am glad that I have because I have received so many amazing gifts.

I have received the gift of knowledge and information, people have connected me to people who may be able to assist me, people have recommended me for lessons, I am constantly being gifted with fabric and I have been warmly welcomed into the Chicago craft and entrepreneurial community. I keep talking about Meandering Design-what we do, our mission and where we want to go and I am met with delight, excitement and support. It is hard to start up a business. It is hard to work a full time job and go home in the evenings and work. Yet, I am thriving on it.

My passion for Meandering Design was confirmed the other day when I came across an old factory in my neighborhood. The co-working space was a 1-3 year plan type of thing. I was not ready to embark on that adventure. Except, I saw this property and my heart skipped a beat. I have to have it. I talked to the realtor who said the owners are willing to invest in making improvements to the building and building it out according to the clients specifications, but they want someone established who can make a commitment to the lease.

It is 4800 square feet and it is on the 5400 block of Wolcott close to Roseville Cemetary. It is also right around the corner from my apartment. It has a large parking area that could be used for events (this morning I woke up dreaming about some raised bed planters so we could have a garden). If you know anyone who is interested in sharing space- I'm thinking event planners, photographers, artists and artisans, then let me know. If you know anyone who wants to invest in a start-up let me know. If you have any creative crazy ideas please let me know. I can be reached at I am not yet willing to give up on this property.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Catching Up

Sorry posting was so light last week, but I fell over sick. Thankfully I feel much better and I'm looking forward to getting back in the studio. I am starting to feel the pressure of the holiday season though. There are so many things I want to make for the shop for Christmas and so many Christmas presents I have to make. At the same time I am trying to adopt a 'que sera sera' attitude and not freak out. Christmas can do that to people.

I love buying presents for people. I love trying to find something that makes their eyes light up and let them know that I was thinking about them. One year I bought everybody in my family slippers and I embroidered things on them. For my grandfather, Poppy, I embroidered his favorite orange tabby. Every time I saw him wearing those slippers it made me smile. It was something small, relatively inexpensive, but since I personalized it those presents meant so much to the people who received them.

This Christmas I recommend slowing down. Give the gift of yourself to friends you have not seen in awhile. Instead of going overboard and buying a ton of things with money you may not have, buy less. They won't notice the difference. I remember one year as a child my favorite present that Santa left under the tree was a box of crayons (oh and there is a Santa Claus).

If I could suggest a fun Christmas present...Sewing Lessons at Meandering Design. We can customize a class for any skill level. Or, if you want a night out feel free to bring a bottle of your favorite wine and come learn how to sew.

Check out the options here.

Hope to see you or a friend at a lesson soon.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Your input would be helpful

Now that the fate of the world has been decided I can go back to focusing on other very important things. Like choices I have not been able to make for, oh, I don't know, ten years. I speak of decorating choices.

I purchased this chair sometime around 1998 from Josie's Antiques out in DeKalb (I can date it based on the car I had! Who knew you could fit a chair this size in the front seat of a two door Mazda MX6).  It was covered in some fantastically ugly pink brocade fabric that was probably original to the chair. The soft yellow paint and gilding are flaking off and for a moment I thought about painting it, but then that moment passed. Sometime around 2001 when I moved into my first apartment in Chicago I did a very poor job at covering it in some light green brocade fabric.

When I moved to my new apartment I ripped all the fabric off the chair and now it sits forlorn and naked. I threw some fabric over it to hide its stuffing. I have been trying to find vintage fabric but I need a lot of yardage and I am having difficulties finding enough. I did find some gorgeous grey vintage fabric but it cost a pretty penny and was in Belgium. I may just need to go to Europe to find some fabric...

At first I was thinking of covering it in dark grey velvet, but then I realized I want some color. Here are a couple of things I found that inspired my new color choice. I wanted something a little dramatic to suit the lines of the chair (and because I am a princess).

Via Pinterest

Oh wait, that's grey....via Pinterest

Via Pinterest

 So, here are my options. This requires you to reveal yourself and tell me which fabric you prefer.

From Purl Soho
Here is a cotton/linen upholstery weight blend from Echino, who is a designer I adore.

These are both peacock green velvet upholstery fabric.

Or I stick with grey....Thoughts???

Friday, November 9, 2012

Comfy, Fashionable, Utilitarian (CFU)

This idea came to me as I was writing a blog post about fabric and my memories and thoughts about it.  I was remembering my endless trips to fabric shops with my mom in Puerto Rico and realized that I actually remember which were my top three favourite types of fabric... comfy flannel, fashionable linen, and utilitarian canvas.  

At that time, before I was a teenager, I had already made fabric associations which now I see as key aspects of life.  The comfy flannel was for pjs, there was no other purpose in my mind for that fabric.  Linen was for dress up clothes... specially for blouses and shirts, and the canvas was to make the hammocks that we took with us on camping trips.  Simple!  

I am beginning to believe more and more that the perfect outfit (perfect for me) should cover those three categories.

1.  Comfy - Let's face it, unless you have your own driver and/or plan on not moving much, what you wear needs to be comfortable.  I am not saying that it has to be flannel pjs, I am just saying that if you are not comfortable wearing the clothes, it is going to show in a bad way.

2.  Fashionable - Oh yeah, fashion!  There are many articles and blogs out there about finding your style.  Which ever it is, make it yours and make a statement.  I think that a great way to making that statement is by upcycling.  Getting your clothes to fit well is pretty much half the battle and unless you have your own tailor/seamstress, chances are that what you have in your closet could use some attention.

3.  Utilitarian - Let me just give you an example...  an awesome and colourful wool scarf is comfortable, fashionable AND utilitarian.  When it comes to clothes, if the whole piece is not what you would consider utilitarian, parts of it may be.  Example, most women jackets do not have inside pockets... I say "boo!" to that trend.  A small inside pocket can keep your license, a credit card and a dollar bill or two with out making too much bulk.  Utilitarian does not have to mean that you are dressing to paint a house.  To me it just means that there is a purpose and thought to your clothes, bags, shoes and accessories.

Share with us how does your outfit complies with the "CFU" scheme!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Feeling Good

Nina Simone's song 'Feeling Good' is running through my head- the Verve Remixed version that is. The lyrics "Its a new dawn, its a new day, its a new life for me, and I'm feeling good" seem quite appropriate for today.

Regardless of who you voted for I hope now that we can all set aside our differences and work together. Obama stated in his acceptance speech: 
The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.
At Meandering Design, in our own small way, we try to make products and provide instruction because we do accept those obligations to one another and keenly feel them. So help us with our mission to promote the handmade movement and reduce, reuse and recycle in order to leave as small a footprint as we can.

Christmas is coming up so please buy local and support your local businesses and artisans. Together we can make a difference.

If you aren't sure where to shop I would highly recommend starting with the DIY trunk show on November 17th. Crave Chicago has a directory of women owned local businesses, including Meandering Design. Local First Chicago has a directory of local businesses by type and neighborhood.

Christmas stockings made out of upcycled materials that will be available in the shop by the end of the week.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Why Fear Experiment?

I am hijacking Meandering Design today to talk about something deeply personal. Yet, even as I write that I realize Meandering Design is made up of the thoughts, feelings, aesthetic and dreams of Sheska and I and there really is not a line drawn between the business and our personal lives. So, here goes.

First, it is very difficult to describe Fear Experiment, except to say it involves a group of people who get together to challenge their fears and perform on stage at the Park West. I also have to point out that when you get a group of like minded people (courageous, smart, witty, driven, and willing to face their fears) in the same room something magical happens. I would highly recommend the experience and in fact you can sign up for the next Fear Experiment here

I can promise you that the show on December 15th (you can get tickets here) will be entertaining, amazing, fun and inspiring. Did I mention that the show has sold out the last couple of years, so buy your tickets now.

When I was in grade school school I was outgoing, gregarious, chatty and willing to throw myself headlong into every challenge. A teacher wrote on one of my report cards "Kandy is a social butterfly". Around the time I turned thirteen that girl went into hiding and I would say that she really did not come out of her shell until I was about 30.

For a very long time, long after I banished my shyness, I still identified as that girl. You know-the one who would go to parties and would hide off in the corner; the one who would walk the halls in highschool with her nose buried in a book; the one who would break out in hives when she had to talk to strangers; the one who was so very awkward at making small talk; the one who tried to hide her body in shapeless black clothes.

Some of you reading this may remember and recognize how far I have come, yet so many people do not know me from that time in my life and are often shocked to find out that I still think I am shy.

It is time to lay that part of my life to rest. I am no longer that girl. I think standing up on stage at the Park West and singing my heart out will prove that.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Have a craftastic weekend

Have a fabulous weekend. I'll be sewing up a storm for things to bring to the Art for Change event this Sunday at the Logan Square Arts Center located in the Hairpin Lofts at 2800 N. Milwaukee Ave. from 11AM-5PM. There will be some new offerings including tea cozies and Christmas stockings.

I wanted to leave you with some crafty inspiration. Coat and scarf made by Tiina in Finland.

Muita Ihania