Archives for March 2013

Creating Kaleidoscope Patterns in Adobe Illustrator CS6

Hello! Today’s post is a link to a YouTube video I created about how to make repeating kaleidoscope patterns in Illustrator. See how easy it is to go from this…

kaleidoscope shapes

… to this!!

Creating Kaleidoscope Patterns in Illustrator |

If you’re unable to watch the embedded video, you can watch it on YouTube here.

Lemon Picking

As an East Coast transplant to California, I sometimes can’t shake the feeling that I’ve stepped into some kind of fantasy land. I’ll be walking down the street and suddenly the smell of things blooming will overwhelm me. Or I’ll get interested in some weird new hobby, and when I look around it turns out: yep, there are people who do that here. (Once I was talking to a contractor at work about the Alexander Technique, and it turned out his wife teaches it for a living.) As my brother remarked when he came to visit me, “This place has a high concentration of all things that are awesome.”

Another example of the awesomeness: people have citrus trees in their yards. And they seem to think it’s no big deal. My friend Liz invited me over this past weekend to pick lemons from her giant lemon tree.

Lemons on a tree

Lemon Tree

I got more lemons than I probably needed.

Pile of lemons

I had some vodka lying around that a friend of mine had given me after taking a tour of Hanger One recently. It was a really sweet gesture, but also a little sad, since I don’t drink all that much vodka. So I was really excited to use it to make limoncello!


Many of the recipes I found online call for 100 proof vodka, and mine is only 80, but the worst that might happen seems to be that my limoncello might lack a little kick. That’s perfectly fine with me, since this is something I imagine myself quaffing outside, in a month or so, in the beautiful California sunshine. That’s going to be awesome.

Have You Tried Kuler?

I’ve been wondering recently about how to generate palettes from photos, like those at the Design Seeds blog. After some investigation, I found that there are several websites that allow you to easily make palettes like this and save the results. My favorite so far is Adobe’s Kuler.

Here’s a short walk-through of how to use Kuler, using a photo of pussy willows from my recent trip to Seattle. Go to, then click “Create” and “From An Image.” Here you can upload a file or import one from flickr. There are a number of “built-in” settings you can choose that then automatically generate a palette from the photo. Here is what mine looked like under the “Bright” setting.

Creating Palettes Using Kuler | There's A Thread

What’s even more fun is that you can drag the circles to any region of the photo to pick your own colors. You can also click and drag the colored boxes to rearrange the ordering of the colors in the palette.

Custom Palettes Using Kuler | There's A Thread

If you’re willing to create a free account, you can also save your palette and download it as an Adobe Swatch Exchange (.ase) file, to be used in Adobe software like Photoshop and Illustrator. Saving the palette also allows you to make further modifications, like tweaking the brightness of an individual color. (This is handy since the perfect shade you want may be difficult to hover over in the photo.) Go to Mykuler > Themes, select the theme you want, then click on the icon that says “Make changes to this theme and view color values.”


Here you can also extract the numeric values to represent each color in various formats like RGB and HEX. If you don’t want to use Adobe software, you can use these to create a custom palette for Inkscape, as I described in an earlier post.

Here’s a visualization of this palette I made in Illustrator, with the HEX values.

Pussy Willow Palette | There's A Thread

There’s a lot more to Kuler that I haven’t touched on here, like the fact that there are searchable public palettes and a “Community Pulse” feature that visualizes the colors being used most often. At the time I looked, purple seemed to be the least popular color. Hmm….

Have fun playing with color!

In Which Yarn Fantasies Come True

My ears perked up recently when Jason mentioned he needed to go to Seattle for work. About six years ago, I had what I think of as a “perfect” day in Seattle. That day began with a trip to Bainbridge Island and ended with a nearly front-row seat to see Andrew Bird at Bumbershoot. It’s kind of a funny story how I ended up in Seattle that time: I was suffering from extremely bad seasonal allergies, and so I cross-referenced an online allergen map with a discount airfare site and decided to take a cheap last-minute flight to escape my misery. Thank you, internet.

Anyway, the last time I went to Bainbridge Island, I hadn’t yet started to knit, and so that day was actually not as perfect as it could have been: I missed out on Churchmouse Yarns and Teas. Ever since I learned about this store, I’ve been dreaming about taking a trip back to Bainbridge Island. Luckily Jason was game for the idea of a yarn pilgrimage romantic getaway weekend.

Bainbridge Island is a short ferry ride away from Seattle.  We had a few hours to kill before the ferry, so we went first to Pike’s Place Market. So began a weekend of epic eating.

Pike Place Market, Seattle

The ferry ride is very pleasant, if cold. You get great views of Seattle, Puget Sound, and the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges in the distance. The weather forecast was for rain during our visit, but we got lucky!

Bainbridge Island Ferry

I was happy to discover that there’s also a fabric store on Bainbridge Island: Esther’s Fabrics. They had the cutest displays and were very helpful. I picked up a few more prints for my Hawaii quilt.

Esther's Fabrics

And then it was on to Churchmouse. I can only say that this is the most beautiful yarn store I have ever been in. That’s saying a lot, given that two of my local yarn stores are A Verb for Keeping Warm in Berkeley and Imagiknit in San Francisco. But, wow. This store is like a museum. A museum of incredibly tasteful yarn. If you are a knitter, you know there’s a lot out there that is… a little regrettable. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for loud, variegated yarn, but this store is an oasis from all that is crass in knitting. There’s an almost religious quality to it.

Churchmouse Yarns and Teas

This last photo is their collection of yarn from Brooklyn Tweed, which you will almost certainly have heard of if you’re a knitter. If not, it’s a line of two yarns, both spun in the “woolen” style, which makes them very lofty and lightweight, but warm. The wool is dyed before it’s spun, so that each color is made up of many different base colors, with specks you can see close up, and a beautiful heathered look from a distance. Jared Flood, the owner of Brooklyn Tweed, did a great series of posts on his blog about the making of this yarn. I was so excited to be able to see all the colors in person, since there are only a handful of stores that carry this yarn. I’d been planning to get enough yarn to make the Emery sweater in Camper (a pink color), but ended up preferring the look of Old World (a deep blue) in person.

Bainbridge Island Photos

A few other favorites from the weekend:

The view from the Eagle Harbor Public House (photos above) is fantastic at sunset. The clam chowder was yummy but too rich for me to finish. (Yes that is a pat of butter floating in the clam chowder.) We enjoyed trying some local rye called John Jacob Fremont Mischief. According to the bartender at another place we visited, the distilling laws in Washington State have recently changed, and there are more small independent distilleries opening up.

Pegasus Coffee was our home base for several meals.  Our favorites were the baked eggs with chiles and the savory cobbler of the day.

We also made a brief foray into Ballard. We had great cocktails at The Sexton and I did a little stash building at The Quilting Loft on our way to see the Ballard Locks.

8 Blogs That Rock, and Why

Today’s post is a little unusual: I’m going to highlight eight of my favorite blogs. This is part of an assignment for a class I’ve been participating in this month called Blogging Your Way from Holly Becker of decor8.  (You may have noticed some shout outs from other students in the comments lately; they’re a friendly bunch!)

I was inspired by the case studies Holly presented in a class video to make a screencast of my own and post it on YouTube. If you can’t play the video below, you can visit it directly on YouTube here.


And here are five more great blogs to check out: [Read more…]