April 11, 2011

Giveaway: Sewn by Hand

One of the greatest impediments to my sewing is the hauling-out-and-threading-of-the-sewing machine. Each time, I have to read the directions and take it one slow step at a time. Sewn by Hand is the very beautiful antidote to that. Another antidote: the author herself. In this Q&A, Susan Wasinger reminds me that the effort of creation is an offering back to the world. I hope she inspires you to create beauty in your own corner of the world in whatever way feels right for you. Enter to win the giveaway by leaving a comment with an answer of your own to any of the giveaway questions (whichever one strikes your fancy) by midnight EST Friday April, 15. One winner will be chosen at random. Good luck, and happy beauty-making!

What most inspires you to create, to write, to live well?

I have been given many lucky things in my life. I’ve had a great family, incredible friends, and I’ve been lucky enough to live in some of the most beautiful places on the planet. I feel like the way to honor all of that good fortune is by working hard, and taking on creative challenges, and spreading around the things others have taught me. When I get cranky about how full my inbox is or all the impending deadlines, I remind myself how often the fortunes have smiled on me, how often jewels have been laid at my feet. It would be unthinkable not to pick up those boons and blessings and hand them on to others.

What’s some of the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

Well my daughter picked this up in her travels through the world and I think it is very good advice: “It will all turn out okay in the end, and if it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.” The other good advice is that you have to show up. You have to stand up, go out, and meet your life. It is no good sitting around thinking about things you want to do, places you want to go, the person you want to be when you grow up. You have to make that effort, and take that first step, even if sometimes that first step is a real leap.

What’s your ideal day look like?

First a big breakfast (that hopefully involves biscuits or pancakes and also fresh strawberries), a mountain bike ride with my dog and my husband, lots of sun streaming into my studio with some beautiful, newly-made projects to photograph, everybody around the dinner table at night fervently dissecting the day’s events and solving the world’s problems, help with the dishes, then staying up late (till the night goes quiet), to answer emails from my dear ones scattered all over the globe.

What’s on your bedside table?

At the moment, I am doing my annual re-read of Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa. This book is full of wisdom and insight and grace. It illustrates lovingly the end of a certain world and shows us the beginnings of our modern one. This book is not at all politically correct, but throughout it, Dinesen looks into the soul of things– of places and animals and humans– and time and time again, she finds majesty and beauty and good.

Update 4/18: And the winner is Katie! Thanks so much to everyone for entering!

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  • RH: My bedside table is stacked with graphic novels right now. Currently working my way through Y: The Last Man. So good!5 years ago

  • Kristina Strain: Yay, it’s working again! My ideal day involves my husband, wildflowers, good weather, some hiking, and really good food.5 years ago

  • Stella: “The Great Gatsby” is on my “bedside table” aka the floor. I’m ashamed to say that this is my first time reading it…and that I don’t have a proper nightstand.5 years ago

  • Katie: Beautiful interview. I love the idea that “the effort of creation is an offering back to the world.”

    On my bedside table: Imagined London by Anna Quindlen, and peppermint lip balm.5 years ago

  • Jessi: What most inspires me is being able to create beautiful things for the wonderful people in my life. A scarf that warms or some sewing that cheers, it makes it all worthwhile!5 years ago

  • Aleta: My ideal day is a day without worries5 years ago

  • Sarah G: My ideal day includes sleeping in, a great big breakfast at home, sunshine (which we are severely lacking here in Portland), a tandem bike ride with my hubby down to the Mississippi food carts for lunch, a leisurely stroll with my dog (who has yet to learn the art of the leisure stroll- he’s more of a spazzy drag-me-down-the-street kind of guy), ending with a dinner party filled with all my favorite people. and i get to wear an amazing vintage full-skirted dress 🙂5 years ago

  • vanessa: on my bedside table right now is a book of poems by pablo neruda. my goal for national poetry month: memorize one of his poems in english and in spanish. i think it will have to be a short one!5 years ago

  • Teresa: My ideal day would be a spring day, a breakfast reading the newspaper, with fresh fruit and yogurt, and then take a cold shower, read all the wonderful blogs around the world, and then start planning a big dinner with my closest friends.5 years ago

  • Erin: My ideal day would include as many of the following as possible:

    *Gorgeous weather, the kind that inspires you to pack a picnic and go to a park.
    *A conversation with someone who means a lot to me
    *Creating something, be it written, calligraphy-ed, water-colored, sewn, or assembled.
    *Reading a great story or review or essay.
    *Watching a great show.
    *Making a new dish with my husband and enjoying it together.
    *Helping a child learn to read or teaching how to swim.5 years ago

  • Mer Copeland: The best advice I have received is “Forgive and forget. If you can’t forget, forgive every time you remember.”. Lovely interview.5 years ago

  • Jen: Some of the best advice I was ever given…to trust my gut instincts when my heart/head tries leading me astray!5 years ago

  • Cadi: My ideal day would be worry and what-if free (I’m a complete worrywart) and include a picnic full of my favorite things, shared with my favorite people, at my favorite picnic spot. Complete with a great vintage quilt, a crisp linen sundress, and perfect lighting for pictures to remember it by.5 years ago

  • jack: My current bedside reading is split between Jo Walton’s “Among Others” and Jacqueline Carey’s “Kushiel’s Dart.” They’re very different coming-of-age stories told by strong and interesting narrators.5 years ago

  • Claudia M: My idea day…it would probably include a pasty for breakfast, coffee…doing some good writing…trying something new/starting some kind of project, and eating an amazing dinner and watching some fine tv.5 years ago

  • Starlene: oooh, my ideal day!!! breakfast and coffee in bed with my man, the paper and tcm. then thrift store shopping with a break for lunch and margaritas at our favorite mexican restaurant. home for a short nap then a lovely bbq/dinner party with good friends. perfect!5 years ago

  • Kanesha: Nice interview, Sarah, and excellent giveaway.
    Best advice:
    -“Be you and that should be good enough.” -My mom

    Ideal day:
    -Reading the entire newspaper
    -Nursing my coffee or tea
    -Getting to craft/create for as long as I want

    Bedside table:
    -Stationery from Anthropologie
    -Nail oil
    -Evian face spray
    -When you Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (reading this with my 11yo)5 years ago

  • Sara Rose: What’s some of the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

    A quote I read resonates with me every single day- ‘I am not afraid of the storm, for I am learning to sail my own ship.’ by Louisa May Alcott. To me, it means that we actively can control how we deal with what life throws our way. We may not be able to control the world but we can shape what we do with what it gives us. When life has thrown a lot of rotten lemons our way, we’ve just tried to compost them- meaning we turn rotten luck into fodder for something new. Thats what learning to sail my own ship means to me. I can choose happiness and to keep going, or I can let my woes ruin me. It’s all about choices.5 years ago

  • Katie: I’m going to take that with me…”the effort of creation is an offering back to the world”… It seems to justify my little projects and musings and crafty things.

    I was also given this quote today “It is through Art, and through Art only, that we can relise our perfection; through Art and through Art only, that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence.” (Oscar Wilde)

    Today I’m thankful for the moments that are used to doodle and create.5 years ago

  • Patti S: First I have to say…You have a wonderful blog! I’m glad I happened upon your little gem. 🙂

    What’s on your bedside table?
    The alarm clock (that never wakes me up because kids make for better alarm clocks), a baby monitor, a small lamp, my glasses and a few misplaced crayons. Below on the shelves are a collection of old cookbooks that won’t fit on my kitchen shelves, and a collection of craft magazines, sewing patterns and journals with creative ideas (because I find most ideas come to me just as I’m nodding off to sleep).5 years ago

  • Sarah: The best advice I have ever gotten?

    “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Gosh, moms are good! My mom has taught me that all growing up, and it’s absolutely instilled in my mind. It’s become a huge part of who I am, and how I intereact with others. Thinking about it reminds me to be merciful to others, to be kind and patient, and to love everyone.5 years ago

  • Kate: My Dad grew up on a farm and when we were young we lived out in the country, complete with cows and tractor, perfect scenery and plenty of hard work! We were going into town one day after working and I didn’t want to get in the car; I didn’t want anyone to see me covered in dirt. My Dad told me “Never let anyone make you feel bad about working hard.” We since moved to the city, and as a health professional I am rarely, if ever, covered in dirt, but that statement impacted the way I saw myself, my family, and all the hard-working people of the world.5 years ago

  • Stacy: The best advice I’ve ever gotten was given by my brother. I was going through a pretty rough period, and he simplified things for me. “The only things that matter in life,” he said, “are doing what makes you happy, and trying not to hurt anyone else. That’s it.”5 years ago

  • Paula: On my bedside table I have “The Pillars of the Earth”, I’m enjoying it very much. Thanks for the giveaway!
    ap_lemos at yahoo dot com5 years ago

  • Sarah: My bedside table is crowded with my laptop (so I can watch West Wing before while I fall asleep) and “Such a Pretty Fat” by Jen Lancaster. Laughs, a big butt and Sam Seaborn. What more could you want?5 years ago

  • Katy: My bedside table has a guitar tuner (I’m trying to get back into my music), a glass of iced tea and a little dish of hairpins that I should probably put someplace else. I’m a work in progress!5 years ago

  • kayduh: What’s on your bedside table?

    The book club book for the month (which almost never gets finished because it’s really about the wine and cheese and friendship), the book I really am reading and my alarm clock.5 years ago

  • Mellisa: My ideal day is leisurely and unplanned. It would involve warm, sunny weather, a walk in a park, wine, and conversation with people I love.5 years ago

  • katie: On my bedside table: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and some daffodils and lilac that my sweet CSA provider sent along last week. And I totally get the hesitation to sew because you know you have to thread the machine! Sounds like a neat book.5 years ago

  • Jackie: On my bedside table: my Kindle (don’t worry, I still love a paperback book!), a picture of myself and my husband, my loathed alarm clock, lavender and eucalyptus lotion (it helps me to relax and fall asleep), and my journal.5 years ago

  • Jesswest: i had a pretty ideal day on saturday: biscuits for breakfast (tried coconut oil for the first time – worked great!), planting strawberries and weeding the garden, a bike ride to return a well-used dehydrator (used for foraged mushrooms). We convinced the friend we’d borrowed it from to join us for a slice of organic, artisanal pizza, after which we proceeded to the thrift store to buy my first pair of maternity pants!5 years ago

  • Michelle: My bedside table currently has Anne of the Island on it. I was having a low week, and decided that Anne Shirley was just the pick me up I needed. I’ve gotten thought some less then lovely moments in life by asking myself, “What would Anne do?” 🙂5 years ago

  • rain m: my perfect day – a long walk with the pup and the boy, cookies for breakfast, and lazing around all day reading and crafting!5 years ago

  • Judith Ann from Cape Cod: My perfect day is at home; doing a little of this and a little of that in the garden; playing with fabric in the sewing room; and just plain puttering!

    One of your earlier posters said she was inspired by making things for others, and I couldn’t agree more; I absolutely glow each time my sister with Raynaud’s syndrome tells me she so happy to use the rice bag foot warmer I made for her.
    All the best from Cape Cod — it’s daffodil season here!
    Jude5 years ago

  • Christie: The start of my ideal day is sitting on the back porch with a cup of coffee and watching all the birds start their day.5 years ago

  • Kirsten B NYC: The best advice I ever got was, “believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.”5 years ago

  • Jess: My bedside table holds one of my favorite vintage dishes with my bedtime necessities, whatever current books I am reading, and my favorite smelling candle.5 years ago

  • Veronica: My ideal day would be one where I could sew or quilt all day long and not be interrupted by anyone or anything.5 years ago

  • Ann Melamed: On my bedside table: a trashy novel and a good library book, my eye pillow filled with flax seed and lavender, framed pictures of my daughters, tissues and alarm clock, and a lamp I inherited from my mother-in-law.5 years ago

  • Jamie G: What inspires me to create, write, or live well?

    The quote “Lots of things that ultimately feel good are terrifying in the imagination.” I get anxious over stupid, stupid stuff, but this quote reminds me that just because something is scary in my head, doesn’t mean it will be scary in real life. It inspires me to create, write, and live with happy risktaking.5 years ago

  • Aly: What am I inspired by? I’m inspired by waking up in the morning! I have a million creative ideas I want to explore.

    I’m eager to get up, see all my favorite people and make them breakfast and walk them to school with the dog. I see colors, patterns, shades, animals on my walk and mix them with my night’s dreams to return home to the studio. Life is inspiration!5 years ago

  • Hannah: Best Advice: You won’t know if it works till you try 🙂5 years ago

  • Rachel: One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received came from my 4-year-old daughter, as we navigated the tricky balance of how much to expect from an art project: “It doesn’t have to be perfect, Mommy,” she told me. “It just has to be beautiful.” Eleven years later, I hear the echo of her wise words when I write, sew, draw, garden, bake cakes, get dressed, decorate my home, contemplate my own reflection … she was right.5 years ago

  • La Chapstick Fanatique: Traveling inspires me to create. I get some of my best ideas while moving around in a different atmosphere. There is something so invigorating to me about being in a new place.

    http://lachapstickfanatique.blogspot.com5 years ago

  • Becki: The best advice I’ve recently gotten is to just slow down and enjoy your surroundings. That inspires, gives energy to my project, not-to-mention energy to me too and allows the creative juices to ruminate.5 years ago

  • Kristin: A perfect day for me would be sewing, crafting, watching my favorite movies, and reading. Basically doing whatever I wanted to do, without having to worry about doing something practical (like homework or assignments :).5 years ago

  • Zaidy: On my beside table there are pictures of my best friend & me on my recent (and first ever) trip to NY, a scented candle from Bath & Body, a stuffed squirrel and a lamp for reading into the wee hours of the night… 🙂5 years ago

  • Karen: On my bedside table: a thrift store lamp I haven’t yet found a shade for, Alice Waters’s “Chez Panisse Vegetables” and handful of earrings I need to put away.5 years ago

  • LH: My ideal day is one spent relaxing with my husband and our toddler. Mostly at home, but some time spent at the park or zoo enjoying walking together in the sunshine. And of course some time for me to be crafty and creative 🙂5 years ago

  • Colleen: My bedside table – sketch book, vintage crystal lamp – my pile of books and a photo of my husband.5 years ago

  • Chris: bedside table – very practical as I am a college student – small desk lamp, alarm and usually my organ. chem book and some tea w/ a quilted coaster my mom made me.5 years ago

  • June S: I was recently reminded of some of the best advice I’ve been given, from my mom… When you come to an intersection, look right, look left, and look ahead. Choose the direction that feels most right and you will end up where you need to go.5 years ago

  • Becky Stancill: As I was learning to sew I was told “Handmade is wonderful just don’t let it look homemade.” Took me a while to figure that one out. Essentially it means that taking time to make sure your work is done neatly and correctly is the only way to do anything.5 years ago

  • jj: My bedside table’s got: a retro reading lamp, mango- and papaya-scented candles, a nailclippers, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, Wherever You Go There You Are on meditation, and usually my cellphone. Although they say you should try to stay a meter away from your cellphone to prevent cancer. Maybe I should move it. =)5 years ago

  • Jess: My bedside table has: a dictionary, an alarm clock, a lamp, a pencil, a notebook, and Gail Carriger’s Changless–not as good as Soulless, but you’ve got to have hope with it comes to second books in series.5 years ago

  • Jennifer: My ideal day (during the semester): breakfast in bed with my love, bubble bath with a good book, picnic at the park and a long walk, nap, homemade, delicious dinner with friends, dessert, finished off with a Disney movie before bed.

    (I recognize that my ideal day changes a lot depending on how busy I am…like right now just before the havoc of graduate level finals, this is my ideal day. The summer though would tell a slightly different tale.)5 years ago

  • SewLindaAnn: “What Inspires me….” Realizing how lucky I am to be alive, have a home to live in and good food to eat. It’s amazing how many people in this world live without food and shelter. I’m blessed to have the ability to make things to give them comfort, to write and create in any form to soothe my creative soul. I know I might sound dramatic, but I’m serious.5 years ago

  • Kim: It is a nice challenge to stop and think about what my ideal day would look like, and something we should all do more often! My ideal day would begin with me waking up early and well-rested to sunlight streaming in my window, followed by a yoga class with a favorite instructor. Then I’d come home to have tea and muffins. Afterwards, I’d spend the day wandering around the city, stopping at a cafe for a snack and to read, write, and relax. At night, I’d go salsa dancing with friends. Simple pleasures! 🙂5 years ago

  • Kim R: Best advice was from a college professor who told me not to worry so much about who/what I was going to be, just focus on what I was going to do next and make that count.

    Love, LOVE reading your blog. It’s filling a little void of ‘me’ time very efficiently between teething and potty training.5 years ago

  • Nicole: My ideal day –
    Waking up early next to the one I love, having breakfast at my favorite diner, packing a lunch and go to the beach and stay long enough to be bundled back up in all my layers and watch the sun go down, make my way home, cook dinner together and fall asleep on the couch.
    That would be bliss!5 years ago

  • Christy: Next to my bed? Besides dog and cat dust bunnies? I’m reading The Help on my kindle, Water for Elephants in softback, MS Living magazine, a homemade journal that I’m trying to write in weekly and a Valentine’s card from my boyfriend that makes me smile. I pick it up when I need a little skip in my step. I would love this adorable little book and absolutely adore all things handmade.

    Have a lovely day,
    Christy5 years ago

  • Kate: My bedside table holds three vintage alarm clocks (only one keeps time, and I use my cell phone as an alarm!), a little lamp, and a small new plant from a friend. Oh, and yesterday’s earrings…5 years ago

  • annie: On my bedside table are several books, including T is for Trespass, The Book of Mormon on Playaway, and my Ipod with several Alexander McCall Smith audio books. I love his books.5 years ago

  • Chelsea: On my bedside table there is a picture of my husband and I on our wedding day, a picture of my grandparents and I at my high school graduation, the book ‘Gift from the Sea” by Anne Marrow Lindbergh, chapstick, a small fan, and a Victoria’s Secret coupon that I plan on using 🙂5 years ago

  • Taryn: What’s on your bedside table?

    A collection of study books for my latest exam, two crochet projects, my Bible and journal, three novels I’d love to read and my cat.5 years ago

  • Cassandra: Looks like a lovely book! I’d love to add it to my bedside table reading stack, which currently includes Fodor’s “Exploring Paris” (in anticipation of an upcoming trip!) and “How to Live, or, A Life of Montaigne, In One Question and Twenty Answers,” by rare book librarian Sarah Bakewell.5 years ago

  • Sasha: On my bedside table: “Murder in the Palais Royal” by Cara Black, a splendid writer of mysteries novels with a female detective and they all take place in Paris! Highly recommended series!5 years ago

  • Sandy: Next to my bed is “needles and pearls” by Gil McNeil, “The Killing Game” by Heather Graham, hand cream and my “prayer shawl” crochet project. Thanks for the giveaway.5 years ago

  • Craig: What inspires me to create: seeing the creative works of others, in particular people working in the DIY tradition. There’s something so wonderful about the spirit of not worrying how well you’ll do at something and just going for it.5 years ago

  • Laura Hughes: Some of the best advice I have ever gotten was from my mother who said “Never grow tired of doing what you know is right.”5 years ago

  • Nova: I have the cutest vintage book called ‘In the Heart of Paris:: The Fabulous Adventures of an Antique Dealer’ on my bedside table.5 years ago

  • Nicole A.: What most inspires you to create, to write, to live well?
    Lately I’ve found lots of inspiration on woman-written blogs. (I’m not just saying that to be a brown-noser, although I just discovered your blog today and feel like you are a kindred spirit!) Of late, blogs have inspired me to cook delicious recipes, try my hand at a new craft, and check out some terrific book and music recommendations. There are just so many swell, crafty ladies out there!5 years ago