Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Andie & Emily's Assemble Guide to Halloween

Happy Halloween, everyone! We've never been the kind of girls that are into scary type things (I think the closest we come is a classic Hitchcock film or AMC's The Walking Dead). However, we love Halloween in all its wholesome, autumnal splendor. We put together Assemble's Guide to Halloween to help navigate your night. We hope you enjoy!

Assemble's DIY guide to halloween, hocus pocus, venison chili, face stockholm nail polish, tootsie roll candy, hot cider toddy

1. Venison chili. Chili is the perfect, hearty meal for any Halloween treat. I like to make mine with Venison Sausage or Elk, as my dad hunts and brings us clean, unprocessed, happy meat to cook with. Would you like the recipe?
Other suggestions:
• If you're not into red meat, make chili with ground turkey or roasted chicken.
• For veggie chili, make a vegetarian or vegan version using tofu, or hot beans and rice.

2. Paint your nails! Or go just a bit past the usual "making up." I like this FACE Stockholm shade of nail polish, Ruby Slipper.
Other suggestions:
• Sparkly eyeshadow! Try NYX Glitter Cream Palette.
• Hot red lips, like So Chaud from MAC.

3. Watch Hocus Pocus. For Assemble gals, this is a must. Plus, it's always on TV on Halloween night. Don't snub the Family Channel, folks! (Rumor has it--and you heard it here first--they're developing a Hocus Pocus 2!)
Other suggestions:
• For a classy take for those who like to get spooked, enjoy Hitchcock's Psycho or Vertigo.
• For the young at heart, don't forget about It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! Usually on tv as well, this is my favorite autumn charmer. Watch for my favorite line delivery when Lucy says "all right, all right, let's BOB for apples."
• Need a reminder of what Johnny Depp was before he grossed us out as Willy Wonka? Watch the darkly, romantic Edward Scissorhands for some much needed young Johnny.

4. Eat some candy, obviously! Try to go easy, but tonight's the night to indulge. My favorite addiction is Tootsie Rolls.
Other suggestions:
• Smarties.
• Mini Snickers.
• Those big orange marshmallows shaped like peanuts (if you're into that sort of thing....).

5. Don't forget to have yourself a hot mug of something. Whether it's our Hot Toddy, a lovely mulled wine or cider, definitely do!
Other suggestions:
Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Rooibos Tea
• Hot Chocolate!

What are you going to do tonight?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Another Kit Sneak Peek!

This one comes your way from the Hardcover Bookbinding instruction booklet. We are in LOVE with this paper. Who wants to make a book?? Coming in November!!

how to crafting kit hardcover bookbinding modern red paper

how to crafting kit hardcover bookbinding modern red paper

We're Dying to Know...

Hey guys! We've got a question for you! We would love your feedback on your favorite types of posts, here on Assemble. We're just getting used to this online game and would love your positive feedback. Please select as many below as you would like in our bloggy-post poll or tell us your own answers in the comment section!

We love all you Assemblers and appreciate your thoughts!

What are your favorite types of posts that you would you like to see more of on our blog?
Crafty projects
More schtuff about the two of us
Art love.
Products we think are great
More schtuff about Assemble
Interviews with designers and business owners
Create your own poll

Monday, October 29, 2012

Our Last Greenwood Trick or Treat

This past weekend was the annual Greenwood Trick or Treat, and it was our third and last installation as a storefront (don't worry, we'll still be online!). We will surely participate in the future, Emily's got some Greenwood little ones, of course! However, it was our last year passing out candy. It was a cold and rainy day --as it usually is-- but that didn't deter anyone from coming out to collect, and all in adorable costumes. We took a few photos of some of our favorites. Maybe they can inspired your Halloween getup. Enjoy!!

piano nobile trays dum dums halloween candy greenwood
We're ready! We got a few complaints about the dum-dums, but we ain't made of money, folks! Trays from Piano Nobile, $40.

kids little rat costume halloween greenwood trick or treat
A little rat. Thanks for the Chais, Caffe Vita!

homemade robot costume halloween trick or treat greenwood
Robot, complete with plastic rain shield.

A family for the Favorite Friend category: the Williamson/Spencers. Creative, talented, and oh so sweet.

little red riding hood homemade costume for halloween trick or treat greenwood
All homemade Red Riding Hood family.

kids homemade garbage truck halloween costume trick or treat greenwood
kids homemade garbage truck halloween costume trick or treat greenwood
My personal favorite. The cutest garbage truck you'll ever see.

baby chihuahua in wolf costume for halloween trick or treat
This little sheep in wolf's clothing bears a remarkable resemblance to our own Grady. So cute, and just 5 months old.

pug in bee costume halloween
This bee seems a bit over the whole thing.

Dorothy and Popeye (complete with spinach can pail).

princess leia kids costume trick or treat halloween
Knit-hat Princess Leia!!

puppy kids costume halloween trick or treat sock monkey pail bag
Em's little pup, Henry.

We will leave you with a grainy video of our first trick or treat event, when I ended up dancing in a skunk costume at Assemble. Enjoy! Happy Halloween!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Favorite Friend Friday: Drygoods Design

We are so excited to chat with Keli Faw, owner of Seattle fabric shop Drygoods Design. Keli recently expanded her growing online shop into a cute, new storefront in Ballard. Not only does Keli carry the best selection of modern fabric, her store is stocked with twine, totes, sewing patterns and other handmade goods like their in-house designs called Bread + Salt. I think we have a mutual case of shop envy!

Keli Faw, owner of Drygoods Design

Congratulations on opening your brick-and-mortar shop earlier this year! How's it going?
Keli Faw of Drygoods Design: Thanks so much! It's going well - we started out at weekends only and are now open six days a week and it's rather fantastic to get to see our customers most every day. While our online customers are fun in and of themselves, getting to be a part of someone's in-person experience of such a tactile product like fabric is really rewarding. Merging online and storefront experiences, I hope, is beneficial for both groups of our community.

keli faw drygoods design pretty fabric bolts

You recently began hosting a monthly craft night, which we're determined to attend. What kind of projects are people working on?
Would love to have you there and share your crafting know-how! Although we've just had two so far, I have to say I am so glad it worked out to do these and with any luck this will become a weekly, rather than monthly, event. It ranges from embroidery, knitting, hand sewing (quilt bindings), quilts, apparel to handmade gifts. There's something so magical about like-minded people gathering in a room and producing thoughtful creations. We fawn over the construction, gasp over the fabrics or thread/yarn, discuss what approach might work best and even better, laugh, chat and partake in a glass of wine and sweet treats. It's really the sense of community that inspires me, hopefully others too, and brings gratitude to be a part of it.

How do you choose such great fabrics? There must be so many out there.

It's not easy to edit down the amazing selection out there these days. However, I really try to live and die, from a buying perspective, from something I learned from a coworker when I worked in retail and we were basically handing our paychecks back to the company with the amount of clothing we purchased. If it didn't give you butterflies, you couldn't buy it. While I always want to have our merchandise mix tell a story, unless I love it or customer requests it, it doesn't come into the store. Of course, there are wild cards but I believe that if you love it, more than likely, you will find others that do too. However, the downside is that I often get sad when something sells out. It's like saying goodbye to a good friend.

gorgeous multicolored chevron fabric bolts at drygoods design

What seem to be the trendiest patterns right now? Anything you're in love with currently?
Chevron and ikat definitely are still on the top of the list in the modern quilting cottons, however, I am really loving the play on geometrics as well as what we've seen in type become popular - a more hand drawn and watercolor feel. We're also seeing a heavy dedication to nautical prints and primary colors. I am rather obsessed with the combination of navy, coral, teal, grey and citrine. I head to Houston for one of the bigger fabric shows with weekend and I am excited to see what's new for Spring 2013! Every time I think it will be hard to see something new or unexpected and every time I am overwhelming surpassed in expectations.

Is there a designer you would be excited to see develop a fabric line?
I would really love to see Susan Connor of SusyJack* bring something to market. I know she's working on it but I have loved what I have seen. And Jenny Gordy of Wiksten. She's made her prints available on Spoonflower but it would be so fantastic to have them available in a collection that's more approachable in prices. The same, with respect to price, would be true for Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co. I satiate my love for her artwork via her cards and paper goods we carry.

We're inspired by so many small-business owners, and wonder how you balance work and home life. How do you juggle it all with two young (and adorable) kiddos?
To be honest, I drop a lot of balls when I juggle :) And thank you, I think they are rather amazing, and adorable too. The notion of running your own business is a very romantic one. It's hard, and I keep an impossible schedule of late nights and early mornings.However, I also know that real balance will eventually come, it just takes a lot of time. Our recent growth has allowed me to expand my team, and I feel very fortunate to have the staff that I do. Each person adds something to the mix and I love the diversity in perspective, skill set and interpretation of craft. Truthfully, I couldn't do all that I do without the understanding and support of my family, specifically my husband. Partnership is key and between my business and his insane travel schedule, we just really try to work on maximizing our work time and our family time with the understanding that they will never be completely equal but it is our time, no one else's. It has taken time to just figure this out and we're continually learning about what works better than other approaches. Making time to hang out and laugh makes it easier. Kids and friends are something for which I feel very grateful.

drygoods design in ballard gift shop paper and fabric

Now for some fun ones! What do you like to do in your off-time?

While there is little of that at the moment - I like to play with my family, food and cocktails. I also like to sew. When I am not making things for the shop or customers, I am finally taking on what I deemed most intimidating of sewing - apparel and quilting. Both are much more approachable than I originally thought and gratifying.

If you could be anything in the world, what would you be?
Easy answer, but really, part of my life is doing it. I hope to leave my other job by the middle of next year but other than that I get to buy, sell and help others discover the fabrics and other goods that they want in their lives and turn into something handmade for their favorite people. However, if I could add more international travel into it, that would be pretty sweet.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Has a transporter been invented yet? Because if so, it would be perfection to live near the Mediterranean. I am a sucker for old world charm, sun, good food and wine but proximity to family and friends is important, hence the need for advances in transporting technology.

If you could eat at only one local restaurant for a year, where would you go and what would you order?
We are so lucky in Seattle to have so many options but I think Delancey would be it. While their pizza is amazing, I love their salads and the beverages. The days they are closed we could consider detox/fasting opportunities and to offset the pizza further, we could walk there more often!

If you could invite one famous person into your shop/studio, who would it be?
Hardest.question.ever. Can I categorize the famous folks? If so - from the textile perspective: Lotta Jansdotter; from the design and lifestyle community perspective: Martha Stewart. I used to be more critical of her, maybe because everyone was into her. But after hearing her speak at a conference and her perspective and seeing her headquarters, I think it would rather awesome to receive her feedback - the good and the ugly. From a current events/general perspective: Michelle Obama. Lady has class and would love to sit back on the couch and hear her thoughts on life and the world (okay and maybe about her rocking arms too).

Thanks, Keli!!

Images via Drygoods Design's Instagram

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Kit Assembly Party!

Last night, Assemble hosted a "kit assembly party" and lots of wonderful friends came out to support us by helping to put together our long-awaited kits. They're almost here, guys!! Sustained with wine, pizza and Halloween candy, it was a fun-filled four hours of taping, cutting, winding of yarn, tubing of needle-felting needles, sewing of crochet hook pouches, the whole nine yards. We're getting so close to showing you pictures of the actual kits, but in the meantime, check out some of our fun below.

yarn spools for crafting kits at Assemble crafting party
Little wooden yarn spools for the crochet kit!

little test tubes for needle felting needles and toothpicks at Assemble crafting party
Tiny test tubes full of needle-felting goodness!

amy bengtson and chika eustace of velouria boutique cutting yarn for assemble crafting kits at party
Amy Bengtson and Chika Eustace of Velouria Boutique helping out!

pizza at crafting party
mmmm. pizza.

felt for crochet hook pouches ready to be cut at the crafting party
"Cut & sew me, please!" -felt.

Special, special thanks to:

Chika and Cat of Velouria Boutique in Ballard
Amy Bengtson of Amy Bengtson Jewelry
France Wisniewski of Bananafish Studios
and Christian Powers, husband/teacher/musician extraordinaire.

Kits coming so soon!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Do As the Scots Do: the Perfect Hot Toddy Recipe

...The lads an’ lasses, blythely bent
To mind baith saul an’ body,
Sit round the table, weel content,
An’ steer about the toddy...
-R. Burns

The first description of a hot toddy comes from this poem, "Holy Fair" by Scottish poet, Robert Burns in 1785. OF COURSE the Scots would have a part in creating such a delectable drink, and I'm glad to know that my taste for it genuinely runs deep as my roots. Quite a few of my sweet, close friends have been feeling sicky lately, and it got me wanting to share my favorite remedy for the cold (common and temperature)!

recipe for the perfect hot toddy cocktail

Click for the recipe below!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

More Fall Fun: Modern Decaled Pumpkins

I have to admit: I am absolutely terrible at carving pumpkins. I always have these grand ideas for my carving project and then it always ends up being a giant, ugly smile with candle fully in view because I have to scrap the whole thing. So, this year, I decided to take a different angle. We're having a little autumn party next week and I thought this would be a good excuse to spend a rainy day indoors and get some decor ready! Learn steps to make these modern decaled pumpkins by clicking below!

modern pumpkins autumn project party with rub on decals ala lotta jansdotter

Monday, October 22, 2012

DIY Autumn Craft: Needle Felted Acorns

Happy Monday!

We're a little bit obsessed with these tiny little acorns made of felt. They are simple to make and a little cup of them or scattered around a fall table is just so cute!

how to make a needle felted acorn with geometric tray by piano nobile and white pumpkins autumn halloween thanksgiving decor
Acorns by Assemble, tray by Piano Nobile, $40

We wanted to start our crafting video series (more coming soon!) with How To Make a Needle Felted Acorn. This was so fun to make, we hope you enjoy and share! Happy Autumn!

How To Make a Needle Felted Acorn from Assemble Shop and Studio on Vimeo.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Favorite Friend Friday: Slide Sideways

slide sideways jacqui and scott scoggin

We're really excited to have Tacoma-based duo, Slide Sideways, on our list of favorite friends. We met Jacqui and Scott Scoggin during the first Etsy Rain Craft Show, and fell in love with the two of them and their work almost immediately. Talented, genuine, and ultra-adorable, Slide Sideways creates thoughtful and stylish products that are always at the top of our best seller list.

Assemble: Tell us a little bit about Slide Sideways.
We started a little over four years ago when we were both working full time at graphic design jobs that ironically were not that fulfilling creatively. When we would come home and on weekends we would draw and make things with our hands. We decided to apply our illustrative skill-set and our fondness of craft and make something out of it. Today Slide Sideways is about half graphic design business and half handmade goods. We do quite a bit of traveling in the summer and winter for craft shows.

How long have you guys been working together as a couple?
We've been exploring, learning, and working together as a couple for over eight years, but working together on Slide Sideways has been just over four years.

What do you like the most about your job?
The hands-down best part about what we do is that we get to be creative for a living. We get to work with great clients tackling ever challenging graphic design projects on one side and on the other we get to use our hands and minds creating handmade goods, it is a great balance for us and keeps us very busy.

Do you sew and silkscreen every piece? If so, where do you work?
Yes, we sew and silkscreen every product we make. We are very concerned about having the best quality possible in all of our products and for us that means not overlooking even the tiniest details. Everything has always been made in our home studio, which has gone from a tiny apartment, to recently our first home. We have so much more room than we've ever had and it's made things so much easier on us.

pantone swatches with silkscreens by slide sideways

Do you have any new designs in the works?
Yes, we just finished a series of silkscreened prints that we are excited to release. We also have some holiday wrapping paper that will be available this holiday season.

Which product is your "fan favorite?" What are your favorite products?
Our produce bags have been doing pretty well and we get a lot of use out of ours, so those are probably a mutual favorite. We also really love our new tote bags that we released this last summer.

slide sideways green screen printed tote bag and pencil pouch
Green Market Weave Tote Bag and Pencil Pouch by Slide Sideways

Now for the fun ones!

What do you like to do in your off time (if any)?
As much as we enjoy the work we do for a living, we also enjoy the non-work that we try to make time for every day because we feel that stepping away is a hugely positive thing to do. Our favorite place to step away into is the out-of-doors. We are so fortunate to live in such an amazing place as the Pacific Northwest. We have a great park near us that we can ride our bikes to and do some nature exploring, we find so much inspiration out there! We also enjoy working in our garden, and the occasional surf out on the coast is always a great time.

If you could be anything in the world, what would you be?
Scott: Birds seem to have all the fun, especially on a windy day.
Jacqui: If there is a job title for it, I'd just like to explore woodsy trails and coast lines. Then at the end of the day cook a big meal and enjoy with fellow friends, family, travelers.

trails in Washington, little pinecones, lichen by slide sideways

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Scott: There are many places I'd like to visit for sure, but I really like it here and it would be very hard for me to leave, this is my kind of environment.
Jacqui: If you had asked me this 10 or even 5 years ago my response might be very different from today. But I'm with Scott, I really love where we live and can't imagine our life anywhere else. Although one of the islands in the San Juan's around here might be a close second.

If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Scott: I am answering this pre-breakfast and I am pretty hungry, but Jacqui made some pancakes the other day that were beyond great. Also Thai food always has my vote.
Jacqui: This is tough. There are 2 things though that I can straight up always eat with nothing else around, avocados and chocolate. But at some point I'd really need to add in some kale, you know, for balance.

And the age old, dinner question: who would you have dinner with dead or alive?
Scott: A group of my living and deceased relatives would be great.
Jacqui: I definitely put family and friends at the top of the list.

To shop view more of their designs, go to our shop and see lots more of their work at their website. Thanks, guys!

All images via Slide Sideways.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Special Neatloaf Repost! Guest Post: How Some of my Favorite Creative People Live [with Blair Stocker]

This is a repost of a lovely entry from our former blog, Neatloaf, by the incredibly lovely and talented, Blair Stocker of wisecraft. We loved it so much that we wanted to repost it here! Enjoy!

molly makes lisa stickley tomboy pretty house tour
molly makes lisa stickley tomboy pretty house tour
molly makes lisa stickley tomboy pretty house tour
Images from Molly Makes

The images above are of Lisa Stickley's apartment in a recent issue of Molly Makes. So sweet! Lisa's style has been referred to as "Tomboy Pretty" and I think its perfect. I have one of Lisa's porcelain teacup and saucers that I drink tea from when I'm working in my studio. It reminds me that other creative people are everywhere, working and creating beautiful things and it inspires me every time I use it.

I love seeing how my favorite creative people live. Not decorators, but people who are passionate about design and creativity and who want (probably need) their space to reflect their point of view. Nobody is really worried about scale, balance, and the hot prints or colors of the season, or the practicalities of decorating per se, but just thinking about how much they love this or that, and wanting to see it every day.

Another of my favorite homes is Denyse Schmidt's home in Connecticut, as seen in previous issue of ReadyMade. Just look at all the "quilty" goodness in that room.

quilt home readymade magazine denyse schmidt
quilt home readymade magazine denyse schmidt
Images from ReadyMade

When I was growing up, it was quite common to move into a home, decorate it once, and that was it. Done. You too? As an adult with my own space, things that don't change on occasion can make me feel creatively sad and stifled. And I don't mean just pulling out the yearly Christmas decorations, although now that I think of it that way, maybe changing up the decor during the holidays helped it feel so magical. My home is the one place I can express who I am, and I quite literally feel like a can't breathe in a space that never changes a bit. I cited these two creative women in the Apartment Therapy tour of my home that Andie shot, as influences on how I decorate. Andie did such a wonderful job capturing the real life that goes on in our home. Thank you, Andie!


Thank YOU, Blair!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How-To: Make the Perfect Cup of Tea

the perfect cup of tea with vintage tea pot, fiesta ware creamer, slide sideways tea towel, pretty gold spoon and crate and barrel tea cup
Slide Sideways' 'Tea on the Go' tea towel, vintage teapot, Crate & Barrel cappuccino cup, Fiestaware Mini Disk Pitcher in turquoise

I'm starting to feel like the caffeine in black tea is actually more potent than the caffeine in the french-press coffee that I make every morning. Either that, or my body is getting too used to the coffee! I've started changing it up, and making pots of tea instead (which just happens to be healthier!) And oh boy, I feel like my mother after a decaf cappuccino after 3pm...up all night.

Click below to read how to brew the perfect cup of tea:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

DesignMom's '8 Secrets to the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies'

design mom's perfect chocolate chip cookies with stripey straw
Photo by DesignMom

I began writing a post several weeks ago, discussing how I bake my favorite chocolate chip cookies. I spent a day in the kitchen, photographing the results from different baking pans, amounts of flour, and temperature. I realized my camera was on accidentally on video mode and I wasn't able to capture any usable frames. DARN!

But just this morning, Gabrielle Blair of Designmom posted 8 Secrets to The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie. Her pictures, instructions, and baking tips are exactly how I would do it. So I'm referring all of you bakers to her site for the best cookie tutorial I've seen in a while, so head over there to read all about it!. She even includes troubleshooting photos and remedies!

design mom's perfect chocolate chip cookie batch
Cookies looking more like the thin ones on the left? Add 3/4 cup flour to get the batch on the right!
Photo by DesignMom

I still would like to share a sweet little video I caught while trying to document my original cookie post. Looks like someone was excited about being my kitchen helper!

Make It Yourself! Emily's Halloween "Costume"

Can you guess what I'm dressing as for Halloween?

every day candy corn costume with items from Target inspired by Fred Flare
Cream Cardigan, Orange Dress, Yellow Tights

Candy Corn! I'm reluctant to call this a costume, however. These are pieces I already own and wear regularly anyway (Thanks, Target.) Cop out? Perhaps. But I'm going with it. Day to day tasks in a candy corn costume with an active toddler sounds daunting, BUT I might add a pointy white cap to up my legitimacy. The Fred Flare original inspiration was much cuter (and now SOLD OUT), but my version will have to do this year! See below:

fred flare candy corn costume
Images via Fred Flare

What are you going to be?

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Happy Fall Season

We just love the Fall. The crispness of the air (when it's not raining in Seattle, of course), the gorgeous changing of the leaves, the hot tea and cider, snuggling up with a book and piece of's just the best.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Tea in Pantone Mug with Matchbook Magazine on iPad perfect morning
Matchbook Magazine on iPad, Pantone mug & Trader Joe's Pumpkin Tea

I've said it before and I'll say it again, every time Fall comes around, I just want to overdose on Mac & Cheese and read everything in sight, and Emily's treat of choice is the caramel apple.

I started making this collage of beautiful Fall finds as my way to celebrate the season (nerd!) but thought I would offer it up as a piece of Monday enjoyment for you as well. What things do you love in the Fall? We would love to hear your book recommendations as well. Back to school!

1. I loved this book. The Family Fang is about two conceptual performance artists and their kids. The kids are forced to take part in the art "works" throughout their life and the story centers around their view of reality due to their unusual childhood. I loved it, and it's a very quick read. Perfect for in front of the fireplace.

2. Beecher's Mac & Cheese, a local favorite in Pike Place Market is to die for. The best part about them, however, is that they have created a line of oven-friendly (or microwavable) frozen, packed mac & cheeses that are probably in your local high-end food market! I swear by the fact that it tastes exactly the same as the original, but my mom still makes me drive her over there to the market every time she's in town. :)

3. House Wine from the Charles Smith Winery is another local favorite. You can grab a bottle for about $7-8 at anywhere from Safeway to Whole Foods. I'm not sure about the distribution, but I hear it's really taking off, and FABULOUS with a Shepherd's Pie.

4. Candy corns. Need I say more? Really?

5. Crochet! At Assemble, we are bonkers for crochet, obviously, but it's the perfect, productive project (say that five times fast) for a rainy, cold, Fall evening at home. I'm still in the middle of our "wedding afghan" (we've been married for 6 months) but it's still a bunch of fun to work on. Be on the lookout for our crochet kits on the way, or in the meantime, come hang with us!

We want to know your fall faves!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Favorite Friend Friday: Emily Baier of Tako Fibers

crewel embroidery and DIY kit artist emily baier of tako fibers

Image via Tako Fibers

We met Emily Baier (another Emily!) of Tako Fibers pretty early on in the opening of Assemble. We found her at the Urban Craft Uprising, an awesome bi-annual craft and DIY show in Seattle. Assemble fell in love with her work and commissioned her to teach workshops at Assemble, plus sell accompanying crewel embroidery kits. She even had an art show last year! When she's not making and selling gorgeous, interactive crewel embroidery kits, she's at her day job distrubuting letterpress cards and gifts at another place we adore: Egg Press! We love, LOVE her and wanted to introduce her sweet personality and incredible work to our readers:

Assemble: First of all, how do you pronounce Tako Fibers, and what does it mean?
Emily Baier: Tako is a Japanese word that means both "octopus" and "kite", and is pronounced similarly to the word "taco." I wish I had eight arms -- seven to do all of my hobbies, and one more to fly a kite!

What is crewel embroidery?
Crewel embroidery is a textural kind of embroidery that uses wool yarn. It is a kind of "free embroidery," meaning you are not counting stitches or filling in a grid. The images are "painted" onto a fabric surface with stitches, and are very filled in. Remember those crazy tapestries and wall hangings from the 1970s, the ones you can still sometimes find in thrift stores...? Those are crewel work! The thick yarn makes a project go quickly, so you have the satisfaction of finishing a project much faster than some other crafts.

DIY crewel embroidery kit vintage
Green droplets kit from Tako Fibers

When did you get started making kits?
I started making kits in 2009, after visiting friends who had a collection of vintage yarn art on their walls. I thought they were SO cool, and I wanted to make my own, but there weren't very many crewel kits available, and most that were available were not what I would want hanging on my walls. I have been an artist my whole life, and thought, 'hey! I can design my own!' And so I did. After getting great feedback at my first craft show, I decided to continue making them, and have been ever since!

What's the thing you love most about your job(s)?
I love making embroidery kits because I love to help people be creative. I think that taking on a new hobby can be intimidating, and so a kit can be a helping hand in the right direction. The entire process of making a kit (which I will go into in a second!) is creative and fulfilling, and knowing that it will be enjoyed by someone else makes the process even more exciting.

While it would be lovely to be making embroidery kits all day every day, I do have an amazing day job. I spend my days shipping out letterpress printed greeting cards from Egg Press. I work with such creative people, and it is always exciting to go to work. I studied printmaking when I was in school, and even though I am not in the printing department just being around the presses makes me very happy!

What goes into the development of a kit?
It starts with a drawing in my sketchbook. I keep my book with me all the time, so whenever I have a great idea I can sketch it out. Each pattern is hand screenprinted onto fabric, so I need to make a negative from the drawing. I sometimes scan a drawing and print it out on transparency paper, but my favorite method is painting the sketch onto acetate with black ink. If I am not sure about the design, I'll transfer it to a piece of fabric and test-embroider it before printing a bunch of them. Some wonderful drawings just don't translate to embroidery very well. But sometimes I have a good feeling and will jump into it right away!

After I make a screen with the new image, I screenprint it onto fabric. I use a few different types of fabric, depending on the kit -- some kits have a beautiful flax colored linen-cotton blend fabric, and others have a natural cotton fabric flecked with speckles.

Then, its time to test embroider! I pick out my colors, and start embroidering. As I embroider, I keep track of how much yarn I use so I can make sure to include enough in the kit. Sometimes I'll rip out the test a few times, other times its perfect right away. I take notes as I embroider as well, especially if there is a tricky part that I want to make sure I go into in the instructions. I then take my notes over to the computer, and scan in a copy of the negative. I use Adobe Illustrator to make a stitching diagram, and I write out detailed instructions on exactly how to stitch the piece like I did. This is harder than it sounds, and is the most time consuming part of the process.

After I am satisfied with the instructions, I'll pass them on to a friend to copy edit them and make sure they are clear. I also prefer it if I have another person embroider the piece before I release the kit.

Then its assembly time! All OF the kits come with the screenprinted fabric, yarn, a crewel needle, a small hoop, instructions, and also instructions on how to do each stitch. Someone who has never embroidered before should be able to start stitching right out of the box!

What's your favorite kit, and what is your fan favorite?

That is a really hard question to answer! My favorite might be my new geometric sampler that I'll have ready in the next few weeks! My most popular kit though is Mr. Party Fox. I'm not sure if it is because he is a fox, or because he is ready to party, but everyone loves him!

Party Fox Kit + Brand new upcoming kit! from Tako Fibers

Now for Assemble's favorite questions:

What do you like to do in your off-time?
When I'm not stitching I am... still stitching. In addition to my own personal embroidery pieces, I also knit, and I sew a lot of my own clothes. I also sing a lot of karaoke. Oh, and I also love to make pickles and jams and kim chi. And I love to make soup. It has just occurred to me that I am always doing one of those things.

If you could be anything in the world, what would you be?
Well, I do like who I am quite a bit, so I am quite content with being me. But if I could be anything else, I think I would want to be Boo, the world's cutest dog. Because really, who wouldn't want to be Boo? What a life!

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Is it silly to say right where I am? I live in Portland, Oregon, but grew up in Seattle. The Pacific Northwest is the best! I love Portland and Seattle and travel frequently between them.

If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Probably tacos. Or spaghetti. Or Teriyaki. I can't decide! I hope that situation never happens.


Take a look at Emily's in-stock kits here, (more coming soon!) and sign up for her workshop if you are interested in a great time with crewel embroidery. Thank you, Emily!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Joana Stillwell

Since we won't be doing any more art shows after our highly anticipated show with Danielle Krysa of The Jealous Curator (opening on November 9th, 6-9pm), we thought we would continue releasing our love of show-worthy artists to our followers, but now in the nether-regions cyberspace! Each month, we will showcase a new favorite artist that we deem Assemble-esque. Here's a preview! Enjoy!

balloon crafts
Screenshot via Joana Stillwell

We discovered Joana Stillwell not along ago when she sent us an email inquiry. We loved her work and thought it was completely inspired and innovative. From video work to photography, Stillwell manages to give life to every day objects that are commonplace in our lives. My favorite of her work is the Unremarkable Photo Series in which seemingly normal objects "demand to be taken seriously." The fact that they are shot juxtaposed in front of curtains and carpeting makes them even more special in a sea of the conventional.

little artistic objects photography
Screenshot via Joana Stillwell

Definitely take the time to check out her work when you are feeling the need to zone into a world that beautifies the every day.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

This Friday: Art Work and Designs by Piano Nobile

piano nobile graphic lamp shades and trays
Images via Piano Nobile

I can't think of a better artist to kick off our Fall art and shopping season. Local designers, Piano Nobile, will be gracing Assemble Gallery & Studio with their work throughout the month of October and into the beginning of November, starting up on Friday night (October 12th) from 6-9pm. Perfect graphic housewares like lampshades, trays and tea towels, plus brand new art work in their show, Paint to Print.

"Paint to Print [is] a group of new drawings, paintings, and prints that trace the process of our textiles to their beginnings as drawings [...] Exploring a variety of materials, from sumi ink to oil sticks to high resolution digital scans, these pieces illuminate the stages of development of a drawing to its final three-dimensional form. Spontaneous, quirky, and a little bit messy, these drawings spark our studio practice and ignite our conversations. Also on display: our fall collection of textiles, lighting, and home goods, as well as R&L notebooks featuring our fabric!" -Piano Nobile

Honestly, if I were you I would come early because I may have purchased all of their work by the end of the night, myself. This stuff is special. Wine, snacks and general merriment as well! We hope to see you there!!

Blogging tips