Sunday, July 30


130 miles.
100+ degrees all week.
53 new pieces of writing.
17 blisters on the tops, sides, and soles of my feet.
10 new skirts.
8 books read.
6 new zakkabag fronts.
5 new friends.
2 red brick buildings.
1 love-affair with Chopin's nocturnes.


Tuesday, July 25

entitled to the work

One of my professors always used to say "you are entitled to the work, but not to the reward," meaning that, in our profession, where outcomes are rarely tangible or financial, the process itself has to be loved.

cushion fabric closeup

I remember falling in love with poetry, just like with a human being. It was my senior year of college. Late February, maybe early March. It was snowing, it was late. My friend and I walked from the University to the Sculpture Garden through the thick snow. Of course there is the beauty of snow late at night, the shape of hundreds of crows high in the trees, the way it wasn't cold at all because we were having so much fun. But what I remember best is that while we walked we were reading to one another, or reciting. Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, T.S. Eliot, W.C. Williams, Louise Glück, Shakespeare. I loved their words with the kind of radiant excitement of an intense crush. I loved what they did to and for me. Poetry meant hope, and it still means it. It enforces my optimism and my belief in the good.

World's Fair Mural

And I try to extend the idea of work-as-end (rather than simply means) throughout my life. It's why I enjoy printing so much, I think: because, like poetry, it is really tied to process. And making clothing, too--because there is so much space for thinking in it, and because it requires joy in detail or in process (lest everything begin to feel like a task).


Still in residence until the weekend. I'm writing, making skirts and zakkabags, setting type and printing. And sleeping, reading, watching movies. Today I went to the juvenile correctional facility here and taught a class for some of the boys there. It was an amazing experience. I feel really lucky to have been able to visit them and talk about poetry with them. They were so attentive and interested and willing to ask, which was wonderful. I would like to go back and do more work there.

Also the mayflies hatched last night and today they are dying everywhere in huge numbers.


Tuesday, July 18



I'm in southern Minnesota right now, at the Anderson Center. I don't talk much about my 'real' life much on this weblog, partially because it's the private side, partially because it's probably not that interesting, but sometimes somthing slips out and so some of you have put together that I just finished my MFA (Master's degree in fine arts). Some of you, some very discerning ones of you, might even have figured out that I did the MFA in the sublimely prospectless area of poetry.

(Don't get me wrong. Poetry for love, not money, and I'm happy with that.)

So now I'm here, to spend two weeks working on new poems and I feel like I am just floating. There's no schedule, no rules, no places to be (in fact, since I don't drive, there's nowhere I can really go, even if I want to, that's off the [330-acre] grounds!). So I've been writing in the mornings, cooking, making skirts, doing some embroidery. And floating. I feel untethered; I've had to let go of my normal routines (like email! There's one computer with internet, and I don't want to hog it) and replace them with stillness and quietness. It's a good thing for two weeks in the middle of such a busy summer.


Oh, and [west-coast] Portlandites: I will be in your fair city August 27-Sept. 1, and I would love to have tea, go shopping, etc. Shall we? Drop a line (ohbara at gmail dot com).

And, disclaimer: the mermaid atop this post is old--I can't upload photos here! (Lots, then, when I get home. Or find a wireless connection in town.)

Friday, July 14



Oh, dear--that was involuntary, I assure you.

And also:
is here, and the usual 20% off with the code 'rubium' for the next day or so.

Happy Weekend! I leave Sunday for a residency in southern Minnesota, so who knows what will show up during that time. In any case, be well!

Thursday, July 13

as martha would say

Here are some g(G)ood t(T)hings:

1. Poems in the in-box from a dear friend. She is so talented and I really miss her--she moved recently to FarAway.

2. Packing orders in the morning, then dressing up and going to the cute-boy post office and then to visit shops and hand out my card, and then to interviews for magazines and to client meetings.

3. Breathing out after all that. In my fancy shoes, no less.

4. Two hours this afternoon, and another two tonight, talking to intelligent and talented women about arts, craft, making, craft-theory, and, you know, gossip.

5. Mentions on two sites in one day: here and here. (And here!)

6. The last of the zakkabags in the shop (and 20% off with the code 'afternoon'): here. And here:

Sorry there's no huge update tonight. I was sick this morning and I am just wiped out. The final installment tomorrow!

ink through little holes

That's how all this happens:
diapositive + sketches

screen waiting to be printed

yardage drying

And that's how these happen, too:

B and I printed 50+ shirts in anticipation of the SPC, as well as a few other events that are coming up (I'll be at a street market in Portland at the end of August! More details to follow). For now, you can find them in the shop, and for the next 24 hours (plus or minus, depending on my work ethic), enter the code 'shirtforme' at checkout for 20% off of any t-shirt. Thank you so much to all of you who have visited and to those of you who have spent your money on my things. It is so kind.


There is something rather large brewing in my other [i.e. real?] life, but it will have to wait as I am completely zonked at this point. Cheers!

Tuesday, July 11


Did you know that 'twee'='tiny' + 'wee'?
lady bluebell + + + vintage blue velvet leaf, paper flowers, satin bow

Well, I didn't, until just a little while ago.
mlle. framboise + + + vintage velvet geranium leaf, mushroom, berries

I'm not sure how I feel about the word, but there's no denying it fits these guys.
violetine + + + vintage velvet leaf, violet, berries

(the code is 'forthebirds')

I wanted to show you a picture of something I just discovered yesterday. I love that about Minneapolis--it is textured and layered and secretive. I find things out I've never known before (well, see above) just by walking around.
This is a neighborhood garden near the school where I'm teaching this summer. It's huge; it spans two square blocks. There are raspberry canes (in fruit; so tempting), vegetable patches, flower gardens. People walk through with their dogs, people sit in the early-morning haze and draw, people garden and sip ice water at noon. It is a beautiful place, full of handmade trellises and stakes. Full of people's choices to bring beauty into the world.One of my friends has been down on Minneapolis lately. I understand, sometimes, his dislike of this city: we don't have the public transportation or the hipness of Portland; we're not sophisticated and huge like New York; we lack the specific caché of Boston. We're out here in flyover country. It's easy to assume we're missing the boat in all sorts of ways.
But I don't believe my loyalty to my birthplace is misjudged. There is a beauty to being in the middle (the often overlooked middle) of things. There is beauty in reticence and in plainness and in the long flat lands that I miss whenever I leave. To me, the garden I found is a perfect metaphor for the Minneapolis (and the Minneapolitan) I know: it hides its best things until you are willing to take the time to really seek them out, and then it blooms, spills over. I think in the end this place is a generous place. All it is asking is that you show up over and over to prove you're here in earnest. There is beauty and happiness to be had everywhere, if you look for it.
I don't consider myself regionalist; I have loved everywhere I have lived, and have been happy wherever I've been. But I was reminded of the particular good of this place (among the good of all places) this morning when I walked through the garden--in the middle of the city!--on my way to knit for three hours with five fourth- and fifth-grade girls.

Monday, July 10

to continue

The day's catalogue:

My new lines of bags are FOLK BAGS and zakkabags. I wanted to evoke a kind of 'Western European/ Early American style-as-seen-through-zakka-books" feeling--it turned out to be a lot of work (I've had the designs in mind for about 5 months) but I love how they came out:

folk bags

zakka bags
Today's specials are this:

'Une tasse du thé vert' is 14" long and 7" high; its slender bamboo handles are connected by off-white twill tape to the bag itself, which is a patchwork of Japanese and American fabrics, both modern and vintage, as well as a hand-embroidered patch which reads, "une tasse/ du thé vert,/s'il vous plaît." It is backed with quilted white cotton and lined in decorator-weight red cotton; the inside pocket is heavy canvas with a ribbon edging.

and this:

This FOLK BAG (blue colorway: also here, bottom left corner) is made of Japanese, American, and hand-printed fabrics, as well as a wide piece of vintage ribbon. It is backed with an upholstery-weight toile in blue.

and this:

The FOLK BAG in the brown/cream colorway (also here: bottom row, center) incorporates vintage kimono pieces as well as contemporary Japanese and American fabrics for an elegant, modern look. It is backed with a vintage upholstery fabric from a designer's showroom in Chicago--see it in the photograph below (on the right, on the back of Kristin's bag).

and you can find them here, with 20% off at checkout when you enter the code 'ohmyzakka' between now and tomorrow evening (when I post the next batch). Although they're not shown in most of the photos here, the FOLK BAGS come tagged with hand-printed wool felt labels and tiny strawberries, and the zakkabags are tagged with hand-printed ultrasuede tags and little soft 'tac-tac' (the character shown here) charms.

See you tomorrow.

Oh, PS: I'm adding this to Whiplash, because the challenge is 'bags.' Now, I usually don't make bags at all--a-tall!, mind you--so this would probably be the time to enter such a competition.

Sunday, July 9

in full form

Ahh. Ten hours of sleep did it for me! I was so exhausted last night that I accidentally deleted the index to my site. What?! But I needed to update the look for summer anyway, so I worked on it until I was just about sleeping on the keyboard. It is still not perfect, but I'm happy with it. Want to see?

I was keeping some secrets so there would be surprises at the SPC, but now that it's over, I can show and tell! I'm going to update things to my site tonight (probably) and tomorrow (def.), but here's the deal, Sparky: every day, I'll post what I'm updating the shop with right here. If you want it, and you get over to the shop and it's there, enter the code in that day's entry and you'll get 20% off that item + a surprise in your package. I know most of the people who read this blog are not from around here, so this is a mini-craft-sale just for you.

Today's code is "bunnies," because into the shop go my favorite pouches (the green one up above and this one). Along for the ride are a pair of shoes and some fancy underwear!

bara: specimensパンツ

black shoes II

bara: specimensパンツ

All right, I should go to bed--I'm teaching seven kids to knit tomorrow morning! Good night!

PS: if you haven't yet, you ought to check out Arid Lands, and while you're at it, head on over here and let Brian know you're out there! He's incredulous that anyone ever actually reads these things. And besides, his business cards are up and they are so EXCELLENT, everyone should see them. :) Good night for real, now.

Saturday, July 8

oh, wow.

The Craftstravaganza was today. I am exhausted from my 2 a.m. bedtime/ 6:30 a.m. rising time and 9 hours in a hot barn, so all I can say right now is THANK YOU, THANK YOU to everyone who came and made it such a success. I was floored by the support, the compliments, the time you spent in my little shop.


More photos, weblog-exclusive sale, and sundry other items of business to come this week. Or once I awake from my R.-van-Winkle-type slumber. Whichever comes second.

Tuesday, July 4

getting ready

It feels like my days are on fast-forward recently. I'm getting ready for so many little departures--a residency in two weeks, teaching classes again beginning tomorrow, the SPC, heading to Portland in August, and of course the big one in September. All the news gets in the way of living sometimes.

Need to slow down.

Need to spend time with this guy, working on some new projects with him. Like, for example,

And to spend time working, doing the sort of dull things, like cataloging and documenting. And documenting and documenting. But even the dull things can come out lovely, like this:

Not sure how much more I'll have time for in terms of this-here blog until after the afore-mentioned SPC. One of my best friends is home from France and my mom's coming over to see the new apartment, and of course there is a ton of sewing and last-minute pasting-together to be done. But I'll be back, with tons of photos, next week for sure!

(Fairy rings!)

Edit: I just watched this trailer, which is for a film my friend is making. Go check it out. It's moving--and beautiful--and frightening.

Saturday, July 1

it is a constant state of affairs

Works-in-progress, visible, end June 2006:

10 bird corsages

three tailoredish shirts
12 soft shirts
designs for fall and winter lines (various states of cutting)

5 redwork [nouns]
10 zakka/folk [nouns]

bunny pattern

halter-top pattern
fitted camisole pattern
jacket pattern (untested. sigh. must get to it.) (or not.)

new diapositive for large-scale cloth print, 2-color

one enormous mess as result of two studios and two apartments being squeezed into a 1.5 bedroom place; i.e., complete workroom overhaul and discard of unnecessary materials [watch this space: Japanese fabrics, yarn, vintage buttons, etc.]

and all along the biggest work-in-progress is living a kind and unharmful and happy life. I like it. Happy weekend.

(please forgive the ugly background of this photo--it's the aftermath of the above-mentioned squeeze.)