Starla Argo


Introducing Starla Argo, a seven-point celestial, who lives in the semi-autobiographical North Coast community all my builds inhabit.


This is a first prototype and is not fully felted or finessed. I’m happy with the proportions, but want to try out some different construction techniques for the star rays, as well as highlight colors.

I also just learned about Paverpol Craft Medium, a liquid textile hardener that seems perfect for preserving details. I want to read a bit more about it, and then check it out!


The “tin” sign above the cubbies is this old yarn label I found at the Graphics Fairy, then tinted with watercolor and glued to a flattened wine lead foil.


The pair of porcelain sheep figurines on the back wall bookcases are feves from ValueArtifacts. For which I credit and blame our dear reader Barbara W for my growing obsession. If you’ve not visited the shop, there are some treasures to be had. The tiny fish pitcher on the table is from there, as well as the sleek white and black mid-century cat duo in the front left corner.

Retro Sofa, Fairy Surprise


The retro sofa made from one of Kris Compas’s excellent kits, and upholstered in silk cut from a gentleperson’s tie, is finished. The legs are painted a medium gold, a tone somewhere between the multiple shades of butter yellow and tan in the fabric.


For the piping I corded three strands each of a blue and gold DMC floss. I liked the variegated result more than a single color.

I love the design of the sofa, but I’m disappointed in my fabric choice. I now see that a simpler, far less patterned fabric is called for, one that does not compete with the rhythm of the sofa’s luscious curves. Oh well.

In other news, I walked out in the garden this afternoon to find that the fairies had vacated their backyard terrace location, leaving their outdoor furnishings and accessories behind.


A short tour found their dwelling relocated to the front southside terrace, an area I have been working on clearing of its irredeemably overgrown lavender, rosemary and other shrubberies.

moved_front_061916This is a street-facing, far more public location, and I’m frankly surprised. What will the neighborhood make of the new inhabitants?

And finally, a wee acknowledgement. Today is 19 June, or 619, which was my house number in a faraway sojourn, an amazing house in a now enchanted place. The *best* water, phenomenal night skies, and the site of epic revelries. To all of you who enjoyed Plain Meeting House Road, salut!


Retro Sofa Upholstery


I did as much as I could last night on the retro sofa kit from Kris Compas, before I needed to decide on the fabric. This is the base, seat and back cushions padded out with batting, and the back (being held in place with rubber bands until the glue cures). The dots mark the tufting positions (with a small correction).


I surprised myself somewhat by going with the gold and blue fans — originally I thought the Paisley. Thank you all for your input. It was fun and interesting to hear what you would choose. This piece is the covering for the bottom of the sofa.


Here is the curved back. There is rather a lot of triangular notching to do.


The back glued on to the seat base. Silk is slippery to cut and glue straight!


The sofa so far. Next up is tufting and covering the back cushion, making the buttons (with the cute button press supplied with the kit), making the piping or braid, and painting and attaching the legs. Oh, and pillows. More tie silk fabric choices!


Retro Sofa


Kris Compas had two new kits up in her Etsy shop, this sofa and some equally awesome chairs. I chose the sofa kit for the Argo Wool Works showroom porch.


I want to use tie silk for the upholstery. But which one? Thanks to the generosity of friends, I have a curated collection of about 30 ties from which to choose. I’ve narrowed it down to these six:


Blue, gray and black Escher flying fish.


Ivory and black dots, which I used on this bench:



Leaping trout on a burgundy background


Blue and white Paisley on black


Multicolored truncated ovals on burgundy


Gold and blue fans on pale yellow


I feel like my granddaughter, Maddie Lou, making decisions with the happy abundance of choices.

Which one would you pick?



Ceiling, Standing Stone, Brick Arch, Yipes Stripes, Bench


For the Argo Wool Works showroom ceiling, I glued the two roof sections from the Backyard Bungalow base kit together, and edged with half- by quarter-inch (13 x 6 mm) basswood to extend the overhang. I measured the placement of the beams and walls in dry fit like three or four times, encountering anomalies each time.


Yet another dry fit, this time with the upper window frames in place, and one section of ceiling planks. I’ve decided a 1/16-inch wiggle room is acceptable, especially since the whole ceiling and under eaves will be semigloss white, and any gaps will blend into the painted bricks… or something. I’m using the ever versatile 3/4-inch rustic clapboard siding from to cover the ceiling.

In the lower right of the photo you can see this standing stone feature I’m working on:


It’s two gorgeous crystalline mineral shards that I promptly forgot the name of, found at a very eccentric bead and rock shop here in Pacifica.


The back of the build was to be clad with the yellow and gray siding, but I decided today to have the bricked-in arch from the interior carry through to the outside wall for interest. I might mess with the foundation to suggest remnants of more of the building, too. There’s only just over an inch of space on the base, but I think it’ll be enough :)


Small progress on the Yipes, Stripes rug, at 2.5 x +2.5 inches, it’s a bit more than half finished. It’ll fit well in the showroom. (Stitched on 48-count silk gauze with ten colors of Gütermann silk; making up the design as I stitch :)


And here, lit by the westering sun, is my first bit of tie silk upholstery — nothing too challenging. Our dear BW sent a vintage Daisy House bench kit (so sad they’re no longer in business), and the fabric is a lustrous gray, black and ivory woven dot pattern. Thanks again, BW and Suz and Dave!

Fairy Incursion, Part 4


I sent the fairies a tea set, table and chairs and a candelabra from HBS/ It’s cheerful, but not really their style.


So I set to making some furniture from beach driftwood. I sanded a thin piece relatively even in thickness and silky smooth on the top. Look at the color of the sawdust! The legs are drift hardwood twigs, about a quarter-inch (7mm) in diameter, with holes drilled for the dowels. I used exterior wood glue and sanded the top smooth again, then applied a few coats of sealer.


It blends into the site much better, and looks like it might be able to walk on its own :) Pull up a champagne cork stool! Clouds are blowing in, and it’s nearly sparkling hour.

A Wee Armchair


Here’s a peek at Kris Compas’s Lisa Chair Kit. I used the same fabric and finishes as the coordinating sofa. It’s an interesting build — some of those pieces are wee. The kit’s very well thought out, with detailed instructions, and of course the ultra-convenience of not having to measure and cut the parts.

The optimal placement of cabriole legs is a mystery to me. I badly placed them three times, (I know, how hard could it be?!) and since that involves drilling holes, the bottom of the chair is now less than pristine :( After whining to Kris in an email about it, she made some smart suggestions, and I was able to do a good-enough fix. Just don’t inspect the underside.

The painting in the background is the foundation color wash dabbing paper :)

Yipes, Stripes, Stuff

This pattern variation appeared after watching 20,000 Days on Earth, a good, if mildly self-indulgent film chronicling memory, writing and performing — made unbearably, poignantly tragic by the recent death of Mr. Cave’s son, Arthur.

One of my favorite scenes is Warren Ellis’s recounting of Nina Simone’s backstage pre-performance requests. Many thanks to Austin Kleon for pointing us to this worthwhile talkie.

Then the next day I woke up and David Bowie was dead. I am sad.

I made a little yellow table from the stain test. This shot is for Keli.

I don’t often do adorable, but when I do, it’s one of Janet Granger’s tea cozies. I love this design (and the cat one). The only thing that’s sad is that it’s worked on 32-count silk gauze, and there’s more gauze show-through than I’d like to see. I might actually go back and do full cross stitch (rather than tent), or start all over on 49-count with silk. Probably when monkeys fly out of my butt, as Wayne so cheekily observed :)

And since I’m stuck on miniature needlepoint, at least until I start a new build, all you sewists, beaders and book artists should check out Thread Heaven, a quite effective thread conditioner in a wee cobalt blue box that has made my stitching tangle-free. A merciful reprieve. Because science! And, as their site proclaims, it’s non-petroleum-based, and vegan :) ? !

Wait! Everything just changed:

Looks like it should arrive near the end of my current, um, fierce vigorous fiery set of work deadlines, so yay!


Sea House Warming Hut: Interior This & That


Working on a wee Gotland sheep using, you guessed it: Gotland fleece and dyed black wool roving. The fleece is from Big Sky Fiber Arts in Montana; check out their wonderful selection of fibers, silk and prefelts. The wee (1.5 inches/38 mm) sheep will be an ambassador for Argo Wool Works :)


It’s overcast, foggy and damp here in Nancyland today and the light is low. I wanted to used vintage photography as wall art in the hut, and have found some good imagery that sets the historical background of the area (real and imagined).


This undated shot from before 1950 shows some of the headlands and other parts of the Sea House Pleasure Pier empire (now demolished).

I found this postcard of an old view south of the Warming Hut


and decided to tint it


but didn’t like how it looked on the wall. I’m showing it here anyway because I like the handwritten greeting from George to Tom.

And of course there will be this map from Cavallini & Company.


It’s the same one that is on the ceiling of the Sea House Pavilion (2013), and the source of the color palette. The green, anyway.


Merrily, merrily, merrily…
and with love to all.




Sea House Warming Hut: Argo Wool Works

This morning, nearby farm Argo Wool Works started delivering their line of pillows, blankets, felted toys, roving and yarn for the winter fair. This season they’re featuring woolens from both their Gotland sheep and Angora goats. Both flocks pasture on the headlands south of the Sea House Warming Hut, and lambs and kids are frequent springtime visitors. Stop by to see — and feel — their incredibly soft-and-sturdy offerings!