My Me-Made-May 2015 Pledge!

me made may 15 // Boots & Cats

I first discovered the brilliant sewing event Me Made May last spring a few days before it begun. I opted to sit on the sidelines and watch seamstresses from around the world enthusiastically share their me-made outfits on the daily. It was then I noticed the serious gaps of basics, neutrals and solids in my sewing wardrobe. I kept MMMay in mind as I progressed my sewing throughout the year.

Now the calendar has rolled around and this time I am ready to jump right on in!

“I, Katryna (of Boots & Cats), sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15. I endeavor to wear at least ONE me-made item each day for the duration of May 2015″

I hope to keep up each day on instagram with the tag #mmmay15 and will some recaps here on the blog. I definitely don’t have enough layers to go me-made from head to toe, but I am excited about consciously wearing at least one item and integrating my projects into my daily outfits. I have a feeling my Julia cardigan will be getting a LOT of run time this month.

Take the Me Made May pledge on Zoe’s blog HERE and set your personal handmade challenge for the month. I can’t wait!

Learning to Knit // We Are Knitters

We Are Knitters // Boots & Cats

Though this week’s nearly +20 degree temperatures have me thinking of everything but chunky woolen knits, I have been meaning to share my latest progress on my knitting journey. As I mentioned a few months back after completing my first arm-knit scarf, knitting is on my challenge list for this year. That first project was a great foray into the concept of knitting but as I wanted to progress forward (using needles) I still felt like I needed a helping hand.

I felt intimidated wandering into the world of patterns, yarn weights and needle sizes and honestly didn’t really feel like I knew where to start. Somehow, I eventually stumbled upon We Are Knitters, a knitting company out of Spain. They had everything I wanted bundled up in a kit, ready to go. They even had patterns sorted by skill level. Bliss.

We Are Knitters // Boots & Cats

I waded through each pattern marked ‘Beginner’ or ‘Easy’ and a chance weekend sale made me go for it. Surprisingly, it took only a week for my knitting kits to arrive (as you know, the crafty types aren’t much for patience when a new project is on the horizon). I couldn’t wait to begin.

I chose a Beginner chunky pattern, the High-Line Loop scarf, and the slightly more advanced (read: Easy) Classic Sweater. I felt like these two would be a great start to the medium and by the end of two projects I would fully know whether or not knitting was something I would like to pursue.

We Are Knitters // Boots & Cats

I had a little trouble when I started the Loop, as it was a double-moss stitch and I couldn’t for the life of me understand how to move my working yarn from front to back as I alternated knits and purls. I kept getting massive tangles and stitches that did NOT look like they were supposed to. Luckily, Rory’s mom came to the rescue with some practice yarns and set me on the right path.

Once in the groove, the scarf took about 3 weeks and 2 seasons of Gilmore Girls to complete. I found it relaxing and a fun way to keep my hands busy while doing something relatively pointless. I actually felt good about those Netflix hours: I was being productive! It was also quite satisfying to watch the scarf begin to form and get longer every time I worked on the project.

We Are Knitters // Boots & Cats

I wore this scarf a lot over the remaining months of winter and it looked really cute with the polka dot Linden I made myself. Feeling confident and able, I was ready to take on the sweater, gauging it should take me about 3x as long as the scarf. In 9 weeks, I said, I will have a nice sweater in a beautiful pastel colour just as spring begins!

That was about….10 weeks ago?

Current progress on the sweater stands at around 15% done. Turns out, I wasn’t anticipating that the combination of thinner yarn, smaller needles and 4 ‘pattern’ pieces meant a heck of a lot more knitting would be involved.

We Are Knitters // Boots & Cats

I’ve also found that as I continue to knit, the less fascinating it is becoming to me. The ‘garment-appearing-before-my-eyes-on-the-needle’ amazement faded quickly and I am starting to feel like this task is long, tedious and repetitive. I am knitting a few rows at a time, the project situated purposefully near the TV, ready to ‘grab-and-go’, but the process is a slow one.

I am definitely not giving up on the project, but it is fair to say I think I’ve lost the mojo. The warming weather doesn’t seem to be helping much either. I am hoping that if I slowly chip away through the coming months, I’ll have a nice cozy sweater for the fall.

Then at that time I will be able to make the call: Is knitting for me?

Easy Washi Tape Easter Egg and Bunny Art

Easy Easter Washi Tape Art // Boots & Cats

The unpleasant snowfall that kicked off this month could be written off as an April Fools joke, but seriously, this weather can just stop and let the sun shine through. I am ready for spring- mentally, fashionably and creatively. This means that the winter decor in my apartment needs to get changed up from the current deep tones and metallics right into the rainbow of bright and pastel hues that let you KNOW warmer weather is imminent.

While thinking about this, I was a little caught off guard by how soon Easter was coming up. Like… this weekend! I lamented my utter lack of decor for the holiday that would push everything in the ‘spring’ direction. (As you should all be familiar with by now, I LOVE holidays, seasons and any reason to celebrate and decorate). Luckily a friend and I had a craft night on the calendar and Pinterest had loads of easy and adorable ideas for Easter crafts and pretty things for spring in general.

Easy Easter Washi Tape Art // Boots & Cats

With not much time for prep or supplies on hand, I decided to do a take on this simple silhouette artwork from Minted. I wanted to incorporate some cute bunnies by creating my own cut-outs and I also decided to use washi tape instead of scrapbook paper since glue and I don’t always get along (self-adhesion for the win!).

I made both pieces in about an hour and a half and I already had everything I needed in my craft drawer.

Easy Easter Washi Tape Art // Boots & Cats

To make your own artwork you’ll need:

  • Cardstock (2 sheets per piece)
  • Washi tape (various colours and patterns)
  • A pencil
  • Scissors (or xacto knife)
  • Double-sided tape or glue

Start by drawing your image in pencil on the cardstock. Once you are happy with your design, cut it out using the scissors. To keep it symmetrical, I cut out one bunny first, then used the piece I just cut as a guide to trace his friend. Now choose your washi tapes (coordinating colours work best) and layer stripes on the un-cut piece of cardstock. This will be placed behind the cut piece so you have the show-through effect. Once all the space has been filled with washi stripes, place double sided tape along all the sides and stick the two layers together.

Easy Easter Washi Tape Art // Boots & Cats

I used more washi to ‘frame’ them on the wall, but they’d also look quite elegant in real frames as well.

That is actually it. So simple. I love the bright colours and bunnies for springtime and it adds just the right amount of ‘festive’ to our space, just in time for the long weekend. With different colours you could totally apply this concept to other holidays or motifs. But for now, SUNSHINE.

I hope you all have a wonderful long weekend filled with some rest, some chocolate and some beautiful days. Cheers!

Butterick 3435 // The Peggy Dress

Vintage Butterick 3435 Shift  Dress // Boots & Cats

Have you managed to figure out my signature style yet? Good, cause I haven’t either. After a brief stint of sewing solid, wearable basics I had to veer out of left field with this bright, slightly insane number.

Over the last few months I have started to work through the Wardrobe Architect, with the goal of determining the core of my aesthetic and keeping that in the back of my mind as I sew. Hopefully this will leave me with a well-rounded, personally ME wardrobe that makes getting ready in the morning a cinch while always feeling good.

My style has been on a bit of a pendulum. Visually, I am attracted to bright, vintage inspired pieces with a touch of the adorable. Poufy crinoline dresses, bow hair clips, graphic patterns and novelty prints. Personality wise though, I don’t particularly enjoy the attention that comes with such a style, and so I tend not to commit to a look 100%, or try to hide these elements in more subdued pieces. This then looks disjointed and I feel less than confident in this a half-baked attempt and ultimately the pieces I am drawn to sit in my closet, barely worn.

Vintage Butterick 3435 Shift  Dress // Boots & Cats

In reaction I have found the softer, more modern equivalents of this feminine style and found myself feeling refreshed and confident. Loose, draped dresses, comfortable knits, and solid fabrics. Focusing on neutral colours and pieces that can be worn in a number of ways, I am attempting to drive my wardrobe in this direction.

But sometimes you find this amazing psychadelic knit fabric on sale and all that goes out the window.

Vintage Butterick 3435 Shift  Dress // Boots & Cats

Last summer I re-watched the entire series of Mad Men and bookmarked the styles and dresses I really admired. One of them was this olive green dress Peggy wore in season 5. Putting it in my mental filing cabinet (and Pinterest board), I hoped one day to replicate it. It was later I found Butterick 3435 in my vintage pattern bin. The dress was meant to happen.

When I took this fabric home, I knew that I could use this pattern and make a sweet sixties shift – though it is much bolder than Peggy would have ever worn. I was excited to use this modern fabric on this vintage pattern and make it something eye-catching.

Vintage Butterick 3435 Shift  Dress // Boots & Cats

The pattern was designed for woven fabrics, so I had to alter it for the knit by removing the darts (by semi-neatly folding it in on the pattern piece before cutting) and removing the seam allowances (both for tighter fit and accounting for the little seam allowance with the overlocker.

One of the biggest challenges I had was really understanding how the fabric would behave in the context of this dress. I ended up taking in even more fabric as I did fittings but noticed the bodice was twisted a little, and since I removed the zipper from the equation, I stretched out the neckline when I first put it on (thank goodness for the collar ultimately hiding that bit). It also didn’t respond well to pressing and shaping the collar (also a knit) was an exercise in frustration.

Vintage Butterick 3435 Shift  Dress // Boots & Cats

I did learn some new techniques I am quite proud of, which included making a key-hole in the back neckline (so I could get my head through without more stretching) and hand-making a thread loop for the button.

As I was making this dress I had the doubts in my mind, stemming from how impractical this dress seemed. The bold vintage dresses in my closet (like so) are rarely worn. I felt like I was breaking all my newly set rules and I was uncomfortable with that.

I plugged along, working through the dress if for no other reason than to publish something on the blog this week. It felt kind of pointless, knowing it would soon be hanging in the closet for eternity, only adding to the over abundance of clothing I already own.

Then once it was all finished and I got ready to photograph the dress, something strange happened.

I looked in the mirror and felt so GOOD. More so than any other crazy dress in my closet has made me feel. It suddenly didn’t matter if people thought I looked odd – I felt like I looked wonderful. The colours and the shape and the styling just DID it for me. Plus, this dress is dang comfortable, like pajamas. I spent the evening after these photos with a milkshake watching Netflix.

While we endeavour to shift our focus from the frivolous makes to more conscious sewing, it is so easy to feel restrained by the new ‘rules’ we put on ourselves. Is it practical? Can I wear it to work AND a night out? Do the colours suit me? Is it mix and matchable? Is it what I see myself wearing? Does it check all these boxes?!?

Vintage Butterick 3435 Shift  Dress // Boots & Cats

These rules are great and are the foundation of a sustainable me-made wardrobe, but sometimes you got to go with your gut. You need to go out there and make something that makes your eyes light up, that make you feel powerful. The garments that take you away from your daily ‘self’ and into your alter ego. If we don’t allow ourselves these makes – then what is the point of being in this creative hobby?

So go, fellow seamstresses: make that tulle maxi skirt, that brocade jacket or sequined trousers. Let us embrace the insanity of the limitless and make something truly awesome. No, I probably will not be wearing this dress to work anytime soon, but its going to be worn again and again and make me feel confident, stylish and awesome.

That’s why we make things, right?

Sketching lately

Improve your illustrations // Boots & Cats

It’s been about 6 months since my grand declaration of more dedicated sketching and practice, and I have to say it’s finally taken off. At the beginning it almost felt like it wasn’t truly going to happen (remember the failed 365 challenge?) and it took a LOT of motivation to get my butt moving . Over time though, the discovery of new tools and building the habits has me sketching almost every day.

Improve your illustrations // Boots & Cats

I love it as an outlet to zone out from my day and reconnect with my creativity. I often sketch on the floor, lying on my stomach like an enthusiastic toddler. It keeps me away from the computer (read: distractions) at my desk. Anytime I have an idea or feel inspired, instead of running to Pinterest I run to the pen and jot it down. I’ve also begun frequently including colour into the mix, as I discovered my perfect medium in January.

Improve your illustrations // Boots & CatsThe subjects of the sketches are different daily. It is much more meditative without a set goal in advance. I sometimes feel inspired and emulate the works of others to explore and feel what a new aesthetic is like. I thought the key to getting better was regimentation, but I’ve had the most fun and success with random experimentation.

Improve your illustrations // Boots & Cats

I sketch when ideas strike or when there’s a few lazy minutes to spare. I am surprised and very pleased with some of my recent sketches. I daresay I may even be ready to turn some into my my first fabric designs(!).

Improve your illustrations // Boots & Cats

My latest ‘gadget’ is a Fashionary notebook: pages upon pages of barely-there croquis to draw fashions upon. Before sewing I sometimes need to fully visualize what the end garment will look like to make important decisions (prints? sleeves? pockets? trim?) and often try to sketch it out. Humans are dang hard to draw though so the faint outlines are a huge help so I can focus on drawing the clothing at hand. I am also enjoying the element of drawing the textile designs on it too.

This little addition has also helped fuel the sketching fire by aligning my sewing efforts with my illustration efforts. Bam! 2 for 1.

Improve your illustrations // Boots & Cats

If you want to get in on the sketching game here are a few of my tips/challenges to try:

  • Keep a notebook and pen within arms reach at all times
  • Instead of pinning that thing you like – draw it out!
  • Follow other artists and illustrators on Instagram – peek at their sketchbooks and try their style on for size (but make sure to give it back once you’re done)
  • Draw on the floor – preferably in a warm sunbeam
  • Play with prints and patterns, then place them on things. Sketch the design on clothing, furniture, stationary…
  • Relax and have fun!

Improve your illustrations // Boots & Cats

Thinking of Spring // The Linden Swap

The Linden Swap // Boots & Cats

In my opinion, the best part of blogging about sewing and DIY projects is the community of creative people that surrounds it. I could spend hours on Google or Pinterest typing in pattern names and numbers, seeing how other’s have interpreted, changed and completely manipulated a basic design. The immense amount of skill, creativity  and charisma out there is mind-boggling. In the last few months my passion for sewing has been invigorated by the oodles of talented seamstresses online and it motivates me everyday.

At the start of this year, I made a personal goal of getting more involved in this community and wanted to work on making connections with more sewists (is that the technical term?) over the web. As if by fate, a few days later I spotted the #LindenSwap put on by Oh She Dabbles and We the Sewing. It was a sign, and I was so in!

The idea was that two sewists would be paired up and they’d make a Grainline Linden for one another. After Carrie played matchmaker, I was paired with the lovely Stitch and Cappuccino. We hadn’t known each other before, but I could tell we have similar styles so I couldn’t wait to see what surprise she had in store for me.

The Linden Swap // Boots & Cats

One cold, dreary Wednesday morning,I got a note from the postman. A parcel had arrived from across the pond! I tore it open to reveal a stunning two-tone cropped Linden (and an bonus chocolatey treat), what an uplifting surprise.

The Linden Swap // Boots & Cats

A perfect transition piece from winter to spring, this Linden is gorgeous. The grey knit fabric is so soft and lines the whole top, so it has a bit of warmth to it too. The softness of the colour choices was also so to my taste. I forced myself to think warm spring-like thoughts and traipsed outdoors to catch a few photos of this pretty thing.

The Linden Swap // Boots & Cats

Why am I looking down in ALL the photos, you ask? Because sunshine + snow = BLINDINGLY BRIGHT LIGHT. You know that photography tip that suggests using something white to bounce the light onto your subject in a natural way? Yeah, it was like that but times a bajillion. Also, it was cold. But you must never admit defeat.

She added 3cm to the length of the cropped version of the pattern, which made it a perfect length for me. This is great to note, as I have shied away from making my own B version of Linden for fear of unwanted midriff exposure. It has a perfect loose, boxy edge to it.

The Linden Swap // Boots & Cats

The one I made and sent away featured a stretchy textured knit with polka dots and plain sleeves on view A (what can I say, I think black and white dots are the cutest). I also added 3 cm to the length everywhere as we discovered we were pretty much the same size. (You can see more details on her blog here)

The Linden Swap // Boots & Cats

Even though I added in a Sewaholic “one of a kind” label to the collar, I have to admit that isn’t tooootally true. I was so enamored by the dots I selfishly made myself a matching one with the leftovers. (I wasn’t alone! True Bias did it too, so I am less ashamed of my selfishness.)

I really hope more swaps come about in the community this year, it was really fun to make something for someone else and it is so exciting to have a surprise garment waiting for you on the other side.

Happy March and think warm!

Everyday Basics // The Julia Cardigan (with pockets!)

A perfect basic - the Julia cardigan // Boots & Cats

About 5 years ago I bought a sweater from Urban Outfitters that very quickly became my all-time favourite. It was lightweight but still warm, had a draped sort of style that could be dressed up or down, it had pockets and it was black. This sweater went with 80% of my wardrobe and was my go-to whenever I needed to feel put-together and stylish. I still have it and wear it occasionally, but time pills all fabrics and I needed something new.

Patiently sitting in my fabric stash was 2m of navy blue bamboo jersey. I acquired it during my internship at Télio and it’s been staring at me for the 2 years since then. It has beautiful drape, a good amount of stretch and is unbelievably soft. I couldn’t simply make ANYTHING with it. It had to be something really great that would be worn a lot in appreciation of it’s quality.

Super loooong sleeves.

Super loooong sleeves.

On some level I had been been hoping all these years to replicate that sweater with this fabric but struggled to find a pattern that fit the bill. Most patterns I looked for had a really long draped front, featured just tonnes of excess fabric or wasn’t my style. I felt a little hopeless and even contemplated self drafting.

Enter Julia.

The moment I spotted the pattern I knew she was exactly what I wanted. I saw that it was a part of the Perfect Pattern Parcel #6 and promptly purchased the bundle (the other patterns were just a nice bonus). It was a dream come true.

A perfect basic - the Julia cardigan // Boots & Cats

My one criticism? No pockets! I need to have pockets in my cardigans, not just to hold items like my phone (always a plus), but I feel way more comfortable when I have a place to put my hands.

I contemplated restructuring the front of the cardigan and adding new pocket pieces, then I realized the doubled over collar band could be used as a pocket bag and all I needed to do was create an opening on the outer layer.

A perfect basic - the Julia cardigan // Boots & Cats

I followed the instructions up until right before attaching the collar band to the rest of the cardigan. I measured the approximate placement of where I wanted the pockets to be and marked the pocket placement. It was here I noticed that the seam where the front and back band pieces met was pretty much where I wanted the pocket to end. I could stitch in the ditch to close up the pocket bag. (This way I won’t have to fish out random pocket objects that floated all the way around the band).

I stay-stitched the opening edge to keep it from stretching, then attached a bias binding to give it some structure. This was a real test of my patience as stretchy fabrics don’t play well with rigid ones.

Then finally as I pinned the collar band all around to the rest of the cardigan, I eased out the one layer from the serger to create the pocket opening on the way ’round.

Did you notice something odd about the way the pocket is pinned in picture 4. there? That’s right! Just as I thought the project was complete I put it on to see that I had accidentally flipped the band around and put the POCKETS ONTO THE INSIDE.

A perfect basic - the Julia cardigan // Boots & Cats

Kids, this is why you should stop sewing before midnight on a Sunday.

Instead of picking ALL the serging around the whole collar band (at the risk of destroying my pretty pretty fabric), I just unpicked the pocket ‘opening’, repeat the bias taping process and then serged the correct side down onto the sweater. A little annoying but totally salvageable.

The Julia cardigan was so simple (minus the pocket fanagaling) to put together. It was a two session project and the next one (and there will be more) will likely be a one sitting deal. I did add about 6cm to the length of everything since I wear my sweaters long. It did make my sleeves a tad too lengthy (they practically cover my hands if I let them) but I decided that I like that fact and it makes me feel extra cozy while wearing it. But because of this and the doubled-over collar, the pattern devoured all 2m of my bamboo *sniffle*. I was hoping I would have enough leftover to make a comfy top or something but only scraps remain.

Soon the weather will be nice enough to shoot outdoors again...

Soon the weather will be nice enough to shoot outdoors again…

Is this the new sweater to beat? Will it take over as reigning wardrobe champion?? Only time will tell – it looks great with jeans, but still needs to pass the skirt and dresses test to know for sure.

What I do know is that I put that special fabric to some darn good use and I am so excited to be building more wearable basics into my wardrobe.

Heart on your Sleeve // The Plantain Tee

Heart on your sleeve Plantain tee // Boots & Cats

There’s a time in every seamstress’ journey where she realizes that party dresses and twirly skirts do not a wardrobe make. She then does a complete 180 and focuses down on basic patterns, neutral fabrics and wardrobe staples. That time has finally fallen upon me.

I first got the itch to reinforce my closet with some staples last summer after making a Belcarra blouse with some printed cotton. It went with EVERYTHING and it was so invigorating to wear a make more than once every few months. I then broke the ice with knits when I tested the Senna dress. Add it all up and you got yourself a recipe for some good casual wear. I’ve since made a turquoise Coco, a Julia cardigan, not one but TWO Linden sweatshirts (granted, one of them is crossing the ocean right now to it’s new home for the #LindenSwap) and a Plantain tee. I’ll share all in time, but today i’ll start with the Plantain, since it is so suited for the season.

Heart on your sleeve Plantain tee // Boots & Cats

During the holidays I needed some good knit fabric. Our city has lost most of our great fabric stores in the last few years, so locally I am basically reduced to shopping at Fabricland. It’s fine for notions and some wovens but seriously lacking on knits. I took to the web and landed in the land of Girl Charlee. While I found exactly what I needed for gifts, a few extras may have landed in my cart (bundling up saves shipping, right?). I got this gorgeous grey stripe ponte and it’s been staring at me since then.

Last weekend I decided to put it to use in a Plantain tee. I loved the concept of a simple, long sleeved tee (I always get cold) with elbow patches but I wanted to keep it from looking just ordinary. I started looking at printed fabrics for the elbow patches, thinking maybe a floral would be quirky, or maybe lace? Then the inspiration hit me – hearts! The idea probably nestled into my subconscious as all the valentines bits and bobs started appearing, but I loved the idea and grabbed the scraps from my Linden and made the patches. I used a solid black knit as the design was already wielding a hefty cuteness factor and I didn’t want to launch it over the edge.

Heart on your sleeve Plantain tee // Boots & Cats

To make sure the patches were at a suitable size and scale for the pattern, I traced the original pattern piece on some paper and drew the heart within it, approximately the same size. Other changes I made to the pattern was to lengthen the whole thing 4cm (as I do with practically everything), heighten the neckline 2cm and reducing some of the flare at the hips. I cut a size 36 and it fit perfectly. I did hem my sleeves too closely to the edge of the fabric though, which stretched them out and gave them a bell-shaped edge. Will make sure too avoid that next time.

Heart on your sleeve Plantain tee // Boots & Cats

The fabric was a DREAM to work with. Stretchy, yet firm.  I love the subtlety to the stripes. I’m glad I bought 2m and have some leftover. It would be so dreamy as a Coco for the spring!

Hopefully I won’t bore you with all the basics coming up. I think there’s a special challenge in working with something simple, you have to make it well and find subtle ways to amp it up. I’ve been finding endless inspiration online for unique additions or techniques for these types of patterns. (Exhibit A: Lace touches on Laney’s and Mokosha’s Linden Sweaters, or this colour blocked Coco!)

Heart on your sleeve Plantain tee // Boots & Cats

Sending out wishes of love to everyone this Valentine’s season- especially YOU, you blogging, sewing, creative community, you!

For Cinnamon.

I was a cat lover way before it was cool. Of all the books I checked out of the school library, 90% of them were about cats. It’s no surprise that the best day of my young life was receiving a little orange kitten wearing a big red bow when I was 8 years old.

Cinnamon grew up with me; she dealt with playing dress-up in doll clothes, we explored new homes together when we moved, she was a prominent subject for me as I learned photography. She gave me funny stories to tell and cuddles when I was sad. She inspired me, and in many ways, also inspired this blog. For 16 years she filled my life with companionship and cuteness. Last week, after a few months of illness she was put to sleep. It’s very strange feeling not having her here; she was one friend who would always be around. I guess sometimes we take that for granted. She had a long, beautiful adventurous life and I am really thankful that she was a part of mine.

When I started this blog I had an idea for a weekly series featuring cats I knew or found online – ones I found cute, fascinating or funny. I drafted my first post for the feature but never published it. As Boots & Cats blossomed, the series didn’t really fit in anymore, and never became a part of it.

However, that first draft was still sitting in my posts, all about Cinnamon.  I want to celebrate her and her awesome, sassy nature and share with you a little glimpse of who she was.

Cinnamon

Smitten Kitten: Cat of the Week

You didn’t think I would have a blog with ‘cats’ in the title and not have a feature dedicated solely to our feline friends, did you? Introducing Cat of the Week, each week I will feature a purring lovable friend that deserves internet affection and ‘squeees’.

The honour of being the first CotW is bestowed upon my cat, Cinnamon (so I have a bias, sue me). She joined our family on Christmas in 1998, where after opening a box of cat food (to much of my perplexion) she was brought to the living room wearing a red ribbon. She’s a rescue from the Humane Society and is now 14 years old, but still has her kitten face so people can’t guess her age. She’s the envy of her cat friends who’ve had to resort to botox in their later years.

cinny-paper

Yes, that is my pattern paper she is nomming.

Likes: Whipped cream (she comes running at the sound of the spray can), licking the cheez powder from cheezies, sunlight and mauling shoe laces.

Dislikes: Being woken up, getting tackled by Piddles (my brother’s 2 y/o cat) and children (as a kitten she was thrown down the stairs TWICE by toddlers).

Biggest Adventures: Figuring out how to open the screen door and escape into the yard, falling in the fish tank and  falling in love with Enrique during the 10 hour drive when we moved.

IMG_2114

Gazing in admiration at my craft project . Either that or she wants to eat this too.

I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Cinnamon and I look forward to meeting all the wonderful felines in the coming weeks! (I am going to need a lint roller!)

Posts featuring Cinnamon: A Kitty Photoshoot, Leibster Award, Felt Fantastic! // Part 2.

Make Something! // DIY Art Calendar

DIY Art Calendar // Boots & Cats

My work space is a little corner of our open living room in our apartment. From where I sit I can see my sewing mess, dirty shoes at the front door, dishes on the kitchen island and more. In order to keep my focus at my desk I am working very hard to curate my little corner so I can look ahead, detach from the rest and get busy. Part of this is my seasonal mood board and a calendar right above my monitors. They keep me inspired and refreshed. I am exceptionally invigorated by the seasons and the ‘traditional’ imagery and attitudes that go with them. It helps me remain grounded in time and keep things from feeling like they pass in a blur. Pastels and umbrellas in April, bright florals in May, neon sunshine in July, muted leaves in September, warm chunky knits in November.

DIY Art Calendar // Boots & Cats

It all plays a part in my daily creative energy. I enjoy the freedom to control the focus of my mood board,  but my calendar is a little more permanent. A decision made that will stick with me for the 12 months to come. I need something that captures the essence of the seasonal influences without being in your face about it, something that gives a jolt of renewed energy each time the page is flipped on the 1st.

Growing up I had calendars filled with images of cats and vintage fashion photography, and while cute and pretty, they felt a little flat. Boring. I began gravitating towards calendars with a more artistic feel, put out by creatives with a unique perspective (Paper Fashion, 1Canoe2). Each year though, my style, inspiration and aesthetic changes, so I need to leapfrog onto the next thing. But finding that jewel of a calendar has never been easy. (Okay, that sentence made me sound a little obsessive. Please say someone understands why I over think this?)

DIY Art Calendar // Boots & Cats

As the search continued this year, the options were less and less appealing to me and I just couldn’t find what I wanted. It took so much time and drained all my energy. When I eventually did find something that got me excited, the cost plus shipping and exchange rate made things unrealistic (this could also be another rant for another day).

DIY Art Calendar // Boots & Cats

A lot of the time if I find something I truly like, I’d buy it before making it. It’s so much simpler that way. But the search to find the perfect office accessory left me feeling burnt out. Plus the new year had already started and I was unable to glance at the date when it was called upon. A fire emerged and all inertia was removed. I said “Fine then! I’ll make my own!”DIY Art Calendar // Boots & Cats

The process was fun, simple and satisfying. Looking at the pages of past calendars, taking elements from new ones scouted online, and perusing my many Pinterest boards, I sketched and devised 12 simple and geometric designs to adorn my wall. I was able to make it using supplies I had on hand (with one tiny trip to the art store for more pen colours). After 4 days and lots of patience I welcome my new one-of-a-kind 2015 art calendar.

DIY Art Calendar // Boots & Cats

I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that watercolours will never be my medium. I have found I have the most joy drawing with a good pen or marker. There’s no mess, good saturation and total control. But to make sure I felt a little challenged I dug out a mini Blue eye Brown eye Calligraphy kit I got from BlogShop two years ago. I’d been perfecting my ‘faux-calligraphy’ for a while now and felt ready to take the dive into the real thing for the months.

I maybe should have done a little prep work first though. I couldn’t get my strokes to widen because I was too afraid to apply pressure. When I noticed my nib split, I thought I’d broken it! Eventually I went to the internet and got some advice from friends and it was smooth sailing.

DIY Art Calendar // Boots & Cats

I guess the whole point of this story is to tell you to never be satisfied. Never be satisfied with what is being presented to you in stores to buy, never be satisfied with your current set of skills. Be proud of your work, every step of the way, but don’t settle. Always be aware of your ability to go for exactly what you want and do not be afraid try new things to achieve your goals.

Whether it is a calendar on the wall, a dress for a party, the living room of your dreams; go and make it happen. Think carefully, plan, create and execute. You can do it. And you should do it, a little bit everyday.

When you look back on 2015 I can guarantee you’ll see the results of your actions. And I, for every day in 2015, get to look up and see mine.