Thursday, February 21, 2013


Dear Readers,

Since migrating to the IndieMade site,, we have been updating two blogs. It is a bit cumbersome and so I would invite you to follow us over at There you will find the blog, but also the shop, events, classes, and we have a couple of other thoughts in mind for the future.

Hope to see you there.

Kandy and Krusheska 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


I adore reading interviews of makers, crafters and artisans. The series on Apartment Therapy, Meet the Maker, is quite well done and introduces us to many different type of makers and artisans. They did an interview with Andy Johnson of Ample and while his work resonated with me his quote from Ira Glass struck a deeper chord within me- 

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn't have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I've ever met. It's gonna take awhile. It's normal to take awhile. You've just gotta fight your way through.

I've talked about this before on the blog, the need for things to be perfect, except it will never be. I will get better at my craft, but it did take pushing through the phase of "it's just not that good". I still run up against it sometime, but instead of fighting it I've learned to bend with it and to recognize that the need for perfection can sometimes provide a learning experience.

Thank goodness Andy Johnson made it through that phase and practiced his craft because seriously this table/magazine holder is gorgeous, smart and sexy.

I am just going to keep on keeping on and practicing my craft and challenging myself as a maker. 


Monday, February 18, 2013

Living Room Tour

Almost everything in my living room tells a story. My friend Kristin walked into my apartment and said you could lead me in here with a blindfold on and I would know that you live here. Starting with the West wall- part of the reason I rented this apartment is that it gets a lot of light. In the corner is my dress mannequin, Mrs. Bertha Palmer, whom I have spoken of before. I bought her at the Chicago Antique Mart one summer with my friend Dan and a friend visiting from Iraq. The art hanging next to Mrs. Bertha was purchased at a fund raising event for Heartland Alliance.

My sofa was my first 'adult furniture' purchase. I bought it almost ten years ago and it is the Jasper from Room and Board. I love that it is sleek and modern, yet it is also extremely comfortable.

The quilt on the back is made out of men's suiting fabric from the 1930's. It was probably made out of scraps or samples. I bought it from a very lovely, yet expensive, antique shop on Damen Ave in Wicker Park. They were having a sidewalk sale and the owner was paring down his quilt collection.

On the couch are a couple of pillows from IKEA a pillow I made out of some home decor fabric, the Kantha quilt pillow is from West Elm.  The lamp to the right of the couch is also from the 1930's and I purchased it at the Ravenswood Antique Mart. I do not like the overhead light because it is too bright and so this is perfect for task lighting.

Along the North wall I have hung my art. The top left 'O' is a vintage electric O from Brussels, Belgium, which I found in Michigan while having a 'girls' weekend with Jenn and Christine. The photo to the right is actually a post card I bought in Cairo, Egypt of a faluk, which are the sailboats on the Nile. They have not changed in design to this day and I was so lucky to have been able to sail one.

The photo below it I found on Etsy. It is of the Place des Vosges, Paris, France and I had bought a print from a street artist in the Place des Vosges, but unfortunately it did not make it home.

The next photo is of a sail from my dear friend Cora. The right on the top is a photo by my friend Ingrid of the Chicago Cultural Center. Below that is a photo I took in Brugge, Belgium on my Ilford.

Continuing on is a postcard I purchased on Granville Island when I was in Vancouver visiting Krusheska. Below that in a large metal Room and Board frame is a print I bought from a little shop on Chicago Avenue called Monkey Business many years ago. Sadly Monkey Business has gone out of business, but the artist, Quang Hong, can be found online. To the right is another photo by my very talented friend Ingrid. The view is from downtown looking at Trump Tower into the sun. Below that is an old utility light that I found on a little antique shop on Damen.

Below that is a French Victorian secretary desk that I have had since I was a child. On it is a candle holder made out of old auto parts, a wee Quang Hong in a bottle and a Danico vase that I bought when my friend Dan and I were traveling through Denmark.

There is also an Ikea poof that I bought eons ago that I recovered and the National cash register that used to sit in my grandparents restaurant.

The East wall has the entrance to the WC, a 1960's teak Danish tv cart that I found at the Ravenswood Antique Mart. I started collecting records and most are old musicals or kitschy stuff (polka anyone?). The record player I found on Etsy. I admit I have not yet figured out how to hook it up! The next entrance is to the kitchen.

And last but not least in the corner opposite Mrs. Bertha is my 1950's Necci sewing machine that I learned how to sew on when I was a child. On top of the sewing machine is an ice bucket I got at the Columbus Antique Mall (years ago), a martini shaker from the Chicago World's fair (also from the Columbus Antique Mall 15  years ago) and some glasses I found at the Ravenswood Antique Mart.

In the center of the room is the 'Knock Down Drag Out' coffee table that I got from Design Public. Sadly Material Furniture is no longer in existence and it is no longer being made. My favorite thing in my whole living room is my Eames plywood molded chair. It is an original, not a reproduction, and I found it at a Victorian antique shop on Ashland in Chicago ten years ago. It stood out like a sore thumb in the midst of all the Victoriana, which is why I think I got such a good price on it.

I found the grey Eames molded plastic chair at the Columbus Antique Mart and I got a real good price on it as well.

Last, but not least, is the Turkish rug that I found at Yoruk Rug Gallery on Belmont. I highly recommend Yoruk because he was so patient helping me sort through and find what I wanted and he was very fair on the price. It was a little small for the space and so I created a border out of the Fedora Flor tiles.

Everything, except for the couch, coffee table, pouf, tv and stereo are either vintage or family heirlooms. This room tells the story of my life, but not just my past, it also has elements that are going forward into my future. For example, my sewing machine that is currently serving as a bar is going to be front and center some day in its own space. That cash register is going to sit on the counter of my store some day.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Tactile Inspiration

I adore textiles. I have dreams and when I wake up I can describe the Edwardian pillow case that was on the bed. I dream of suzanni's in vivid color. I am a very tactile person, which can be troublesome sometimes because if someone is wearing something with texture I reach out and touch it. That can cause some embarrassing moments. I'm like a raccoon when they see something shiny! Felt is an incredible material because it is so soft in texture, yet it is a very strong and durable material. 

Felt can be used to make practical things, but it lends itself well to making art. I first read an interview of Emma Peters on Homelife. Her blog Feeling Fuzzy shows not only the art she makes with felt, but some of the practical things. I especially like the Felt Ball Rug she made. 
Image via Feeling Fuzzy

I would love to take a felt workshop with her, but unfortunately she is located in Australia. Just another reason to go visit Australia some day! 

Images via Feeling Fuzzy

Emma Peters is a textile designer and an artist, as the images below show. 

Image via Feeling Fuzzy

Image via Feeling Fuzzy
 It's chill and a bit snowy here in Chicago and now I really want to curl up with some felt and make a little something. Have a good weekend.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day

Photo by Kandy M. Christensen using iPhone and photojojo macro lens

I'm going to admit that I'm a bit jaded by Valentine's day. On top of that February is a hard month for me since it is filled with loss. This year I am going to try to do this a little differently. I'm going to acknowledge my grief, but remember the love. I have been lucky to be loved by someone to the point of distraction. I have had the quiet understanding of my grandfather's unconditional love.

Yet, in the midst of loss I am blessed today to have so much love in my life. Daily I am overwhelmed by the people in my life who support me, knock me upside the head, tell me to believe in myself and feed me when needed.

Then when I come across something like this video, everything is de-lovely. From the bottom of my heart I wish you all a Happy Valentine's Day. May your day be filled with love-as I know mine will be.



Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Do not overlook your body's health in the name of crafting!

Many of us get so focused on our projects that we lose track of our posture and our working environment. Working from a sitting position over a long period of time can bring about quite a bit of discomfort and strain to the body, which in time can snowball into painful injuries.  This initial discomfort is something that we often do not feel until we attempt to stand up after working for a long period of time. An antidote to this is to keep a timer close by to remind us to check up on our posture and to take breaks. Timers such as the PomodoroApp, a free timer and task manager, can help you stay on track.

Now, let's start by checking our posture...

Make sure that you are sitting all the way back on your chair with your back straight, shoulders rolled back and relaxed, and your feet flat on the floor. This is a great time to practice engaging your core to keep your "sit up stoic" pose.

Since you may be using the same chair for different work stations (e.g., sewing table, computer desk), make a point of having a chair with adjustable heights. Also, keep a foot rest close in case that you need to support your feet while sitting on a high position. Check out this video by Interweave Craft which has some suggestions on working with good posture...

Stretching is as important as keeping good posture. Crafting while sitting down interferes with the normal flow of blood through your body plus, it puts a lot of strain on the lumbar section of your spine. That is why your hands may get a bit numb after crocheting or knitting for a length of time, or your legs and feet start to feel tingly and your lower back feels tight when you stand up.

Take stretching breaks often and stretch your whole body. Here are two stretching routines from the book "Stretching" by Bob Anderson which you can use as references (click on the images to print full page versions). Remember to breath while stretching and do not over do it! The stretches are not meant to add pain but to release it.

You may also find it helpful to introduce some ergonomic friendly aids to your work space and tool kit. That list could include crochet hooks and knitting needles with large handles, a chair with arm rests (or a pillow to set on your lap while crocheting and knitting), and stress relief gloves (to help with circulation and joint support). Also, as this article [] by Ergo Sum Consulting suggests, improve the lighting in the room because your eyes may be guiding your body into compromising your good posture.

Keep your crafting fun and safe! Share with us how do you keep your body injury free while working on your projects.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Quiet can be a good thing sometimes

Teaching sewing-Dabble and beyond

I read a blog post by Tiffany Han, who is a Life Coach, and she talked about putting a new product out there and not hearing a thing. It was something she believed in and was inspired to do and yet, there was no response. I've had that happen. I have put classes out there and not one person signs up. For a moment (alright, maybe multiple moments) I thought about giving up, but yet, I didn't. I put another class out there and still nothing. Then gradually friends and acquaintances started referring people to me for lessons. I taught a 'Wardrobe Revamp' class at Local Goods Chicago and had a blast. I remember driving home that night thinking  I just got paid to meet some fabulous women and sew. It is an amazing feeling when your passion aligns with your work.

Tiffany Han stated-
The crickets help highlight what's worth fighting for, worth going to the mat for - what's that important that you'd risk looking like a fool, or having to ask for help to see happen? What's worth seeing through even when it isn't easy? 

If I had never put that first class out there- there would still be nothing. It is hard sometimes when all you hear are crickets, but there is something to be said when you stick to your guns and stand firm in your belief in yourself. I am also grateful to the friends, acquaintances and sometimes strangers who have supported Meandering Design either through referrals, purchases, taking lessons or simply the shared belief that we are doing something kind of cool.

I am teaching a Wardrobe Revamp class March 7th at Mrs. Murphy's and Sons Irish Pub through Dabble and there are only three spots left. Please sign up here if you are interested. I'm totally geeked about teaching my first Dabble class.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Inspiration Friday

Mary L. Bennett (b. 1942). "Housetop" variation. c. 1965. Cotton and cotton/polyester blend. 77 X 82 in. via
I have been in love with Gee's Bend quilts for years. I cannot remember when I first saw a picture of one, but it was love at first sight. This article in the Smithsonian gives a great overview of the history and tradition behind these quilts, but also their future. I highly recommend you read it. My hope is that I can head down to Alabama with a bag of scraps and turn them into a gorgeous piece of art. There is a reason why these quilts have been showcased in museums, because each is a work of art.
Lucy Mingo (b. 1931). Blocks and strips work-clothes quilt. 1959. Cotton and denim. 79 X 69 in. via

Flora Moore (b. 1951). Medallion. 1970s. Corduroy. 80 X 82 in. via

Image via Smithsonian
Image via


Thursday, February 7, 2013

The universe knows what I need and it is sending donations (part 3)

Setting up a studio with a tight budget

I found the base of my work table, as well as my computer desk, for free out on the street. Free finds help keep your budget low, yet make sure that you are selective and cautious about your street finds.

When I found the base of my work table it had a wooden top which was cut to fit an industrial sewing machine. Unfortunately, it smelled like it had been soaked in some pretty toxic sewing machine oil. I removed the top and the screws holding it to the base but I only kept the base. It was quite easy to clean the steel base.  Soap and water did the trick, and I then sprayed it with a bleach solution just in case.

As I mentioned in last week's post, the new top of my work table was part of a sheet of wood that a carpenter cut and sanded on my behalf. A great feature of the base is that its height can be adjusted. The top is about .915m by 1.52m (3ft x 5ft) which gives me plenty of room to work. The other expense for the work table was an added basket to the base that cost be about $1.00. It is great for storing long measuring sticks, rolls of paper, etc.

Now, the computer desk was totally free. As with the work table's base, I found this one during the late part of the summer so it was nice and dry (read: "no mold"). I inspected the desk right where I found it and then again at home. It got a deep clean up and was sanitized with some bleach solution as well.

Once it dried, the first thing that I did was to remove the keyboard sliding drawer. I use my laptop also as my desktop so setting it on the top shelf of the desk put it pretty much at eye level and left space for a usb keyboard. (The usb keyboard cost me $5 at free geek. I took it apart, cleaned and sanitized it while talking with Kandy on the phone. One of the few times I give thanks for the speaker phone feature.)

The other modification that I did to the computer desk was to cut off part of the base so I could pull the chair closer to the desk. It had to be done! The over reaching was getting to me... and to my body. I also clamped a piece of "two by four" to the base of the desk. That helps support it since I cut part of it off and I rest my feet on it while working. The desk has plenty of room for accessories and I found out that small vises are great for holding things on the sides of the desk such as my head phones.

So far, I have not gotten even close to the $200 expense mark. Of course, I already had a book shelf, a filing cabinet and some small storage cabinets, which you can find at second hand stores, craigslistfree cycle, and well, "around town". 

Have fun putting together your studio and make it your creative nest.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Value in Design

Both Sheska and I have found a lot of inspiration from Ted. We decided to start sharing and talking about some of our favorite Ted talks.

Sebastian Deterding gave a Ted Talk called "What Your Designs Say About You". It was quite interesting, because he makes you think about design, not just in the context of good design, but in the context of living the 'good life'.

He raised the following questions-

  • "What are your intentions if you are designing something?" 
  • "What are the effects of what you are doing?" 
  • "What Values do you use to Judge?"
  • "What Visions of the Good Life do your Designs Convey?"

Sebastian Deterding stated"[Designs] have a moral component just in the vision of 'the good life' that they present to us."

He used the example of the panels in cars that report how much gas is used in order to encourage people to adopt driving habits that use less gas. That could only be a positive thing, correct? Except, some people were causing accidents because they were avoiding driving practices that would use fuel. Not the initial intention!

What I appreciate about his talk is that he examines how and what design communicates beyond the initial use of the object. Design also ties into the life that we live.

When I'm not on cold medication I will return to Deterding's questions and try to think about how Meandering Design fits into the 'good life'. Or do we intend to create an alternate to the 'good life'.

Deterding quotes Michel Foucault, "Why should the lamp or the house be an art object but not our  life."

Got to love a man who quotes Foucault appropriately.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Blog Hug

via Decor8

Holly Becker of the blog Decor8 wisely pointed out that much of the content on the web is thanks to all of the bloggers who spend their time researching and curating information.. I know that I rely on other bloggers for information, tips, techniques, and inspiration. While I read some sewing blogs, I also read design blogs, food blogs, and tech blogs.

Decor8's workspace-I am very envious! 

So today I would like to give a bit of love to some of the blogs that I follow-

Gertie's New Blog For Better Sewing
Gertie has some mad seamstress skills. I can only aspire to the level of knowledge and amazing technique she has. She also rocks the retro look with pink hair.
In a fabulous frock of her own design. 
Dottie Angel
Dottie understands vintage. I'm sure she would completely get why my mother and I cannot leave a doily behind (link to blog post). She is a gifted thrifter and makes fabulous creations. Her shop sells out quickly and so I have yet to get a dottie angel creation.

Pugly Pixel is the reason why I have challenged myself to learn how to do more especially when it comes to tech and photo shop.

San Francisco Girl has a gorgeous design aesthetic. The world does not carry enough adjectives for me to accurately describe her blog. Please check it out. I am also in awe of Makeshift Society, which is part of my inspiration to open up a Coworking Craft space here in Chicago.

Living room transformed by San Francisco Girl
If you do not know who Design Sponge is then I'm not sure if we can be friends.

A friend (hi Carey) introduced me to Emily Henderson's blog and it rocks. Hard. 

I am in love with Muita Ihania. Her style is so quirky, fresh and crisp and I just wish I had half a clue how to make the things she does.

Image via Muita Ihania

J'adore Les Petites Envies de Mag. Cette blog avais beaucoup d'inspiration pour faire du vestements.

I am grateful to the bloggers who work tirelessly to make their spot in the internet into a calm, well-designed, respite. If you have any blogs you would like to recommend, please give a shout out to them in the comments and tweet them with #bloghug.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Day Dreaming Friday

Nancy Pirri 'Becoming One' 2012 photo credit Doug Birkenhauer
Today's day dream is thanks to my friend Doug Birkenheuer, who is a brilliant photographer. He introduced me to the work of his friend Nancy Pirri and I was smitten. Beyond saying please check out their work, I am going to say no more and let Doug's photos of Nancy's work speak for themselves.
Nancy Pirri Sculpture photo credit Doug Birkenheuer
'athena' Nancy Pirri 2012 photo credit Doug Birkenheuer

'athena' Nancy Pirri 2012 photo credit Doug Birkenheuer

'paulina' Nancy Pirri 2012 photo credit Doug Birkenheuer
'sarah' Nancy Pirri 2012 photo credit Doug Birkenheuer