Leanne Prain's Blog

December 2, 2014


I’ve been offline the last couple of weeks as I’ve been tidying, and brainstorming, and sketching out some NEW (to be revealed next year) projects, which take a certain amount of quiet time alone to develop. Yesterday I finally cleaned up my linen closet, which sounds boring, but was actually a revelation for me. I received an advance notice of rent increase from my landlord last week, which reminded me that I’ve been in my current apartment for 10 months. It feels like I moved in about six weeks ago, so organizing the closet and getting rid of my last unpacked boxes really felt good. I’m looking forward to 2015 with less clutter and more time to make things without following a specific schedule.

Since making a dress from Sonya Philips’ 100 Acts of Sewing last month, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of making clothing again. I really love the idea of a uniform of one flattering dress made in a bunch of different fabrics. I adore clothes, but as I got older and my life becomes busier, what I really enjoy is not having to think too much about what to wear. My closet purge has me thinking a lot about simplicity and having less but better choices (which is somewhat ironic, as while I’ve really whittled down my personal possessions in the last few years, I actually made my first Black Friday purchase ever this year – a serger, to help me sew clothing). I’m intending to start sewing on a regular basis this year. I’m pretty excited that Colette Patterns has introduced a new magazine called Seamwork, that focuses on projects that can be sewn in 2-3 hours. I’ve been a big fan of their work for some time, I’m looking forward to see what else they come up with for projects.

And in book life, I’ve agreed to participate in a couple of events in 2015, including a new art and textile conference called Pieces: Celebrating Textiles, which will take place in Courtenay, BC this coming March.

Pieces: Celebrating Textiles is an event that focuses on the creativity involved in hand work, new ways of using materials and Slow Fashion. Pieces offers a tapestry of lively discussions, demonstrations, fashion show offs and vendors, complemented by makers, musings, mending, food, and more. I’ll be speaking on storytelling & textiles on March 29th. To register and learn more, visit the Pieces: Celebrating Textiles website.

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Published on December 02, 2014 00:04 • 2 views

November 16, 2014

Sharon Kallis Common Threads

I recently received a copy of Sharon Kallis’ Common Threads (New Society Publishers*), a new book on creating community-based eco art installations. Focusing on empowering readers to rethink landscape art and its purpose, this book is a study in how we have traditionally used park land and green spaces, and provides suggestion for new ways to think about  ‘greening’ the landscape.

Sharon Kallis Mothers Dresses

Sharon Kallis’ Mothers Dresses. Final Resting Place of Kells, Kilkenny Ireland. Magnolia left skeletons, organza. Image from Sharon Kallis’ website.

Common Threads uses Kallis’ projects as an eco-artist as a starting point. It details her collaborative projects with urban residents throughout city parks, many of them here in Vancouver. In these eco-works, Kallis reuses what we traditionally consider waste – hair clippings, animal fur, organic debris, and fallen waste.

One of my favourite parts of the book is how she details her work with invasive species such as yellow iris or blackberries, which are typically ripped from the landscape, which she has braided together into artwork which will eventually break down, turning into mulch for other plants.

Sharon Kallis Ivy Boat

Sharon Kallis Ivy Boat

Full of interviews with artists, landscape designers, basket bombers, urban flax growers, graveyard celebrations, and community activists – there is a lot of inspiration here. Detailing how one might build their team with eco-interventionists of researchers, artists, connectors , and municipal champions, Common Threads also contains a whole section that outlines the basic techniques a burgeoning eco-warrior might need, such as simple weaving and braiding. And, there are also health cautions for working with poisonous plants, and suggestions for dealing different types of weeds. It is smartly put together.

While most of the book is in black and white, I’m glad that the publisher did include one section of coloured photographs of the works, as these are the images that truly do the artwork justice. If I could make one criticism, it would be that I wish that the entire book could have been printed in colour because the projects are truly beautiful and the book is photo-heavy.

Sharon Kallis, with community. Ephemeral Mosaic.

Ephemeral Mosaic. Made of salvaged flowers post day of the dead festival made by community members (year unknown)

Common Threads is a good primer to eco-art and the inherently political nature of making art with the land with our current environment. With an eye to impermanence in art as a way to dissolve barriers among people and make a statement, Kallis asks in her introduction, “How do we produce, consume and relate to the things we use in our daily lives? How can we be enriched both personally and as a community when we shift our thinking to allow the time for, once again, making for ourselves?

This book provides many compelling reasons as to why we should make collaborative art in an era of excess. I’d highly recommend curling up with it on your next quiet Saturday afternoon.

*Full disclosure: Sharon’s publicist sent this book to me free of charge but I was not paid for this review. 

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Published on November 16, 2014 18:09 • 4 views

November 11, 2014

A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on Sep 9, 2014 at 9:34pm PDT

This weekend I decided to spend equal times working (e.g.: digging myself out from mountains of email) and playing (getting out my old sewing machine). While the garment that I sewed myself was not perfect (hello, wrinkly hem!), I have to say that forcing myself to try a project that stretched my boundaries in a weekend really set me on the path of wanting to sew again which is something that I haven’t spent a serious amount of time on in a few years.

Now I’m super-excited to try a bunch of new patterns, which lead me to thinking about how the writing and story process often starts the same way for me – you have to start with something small, like a sentence, to get to something much bigger, like a finished book. In the spirit of this, I thought I’d finally share the project that I designed to take to School House Craft earlier this fall – the Six Word Short Story Bracelet. If you are looking to start in textiles with story (or vice-versa), this is a very basic project that can get you started.

Can you tell a story in six words? This project is a great way to try. 

Ernest Hemingway was challenged in a bar bet to compose a story of only six words. He did: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. Since this time, thousands of people have written six word stories, and you should too!

Here’s some examples of other six word stories (from the excellent website www.sixwordstories.net):

Left handed woman seeks Mr. Right (by Amber)

Nerdy Kid. Rocket Launcher. Bully Gone! (by Captain Doom)

Three Blind Mice, Cat Had Lunch (by Joe Douglas)

Sharp New Yellow Pencil, Limitless Potential (by Melissa Wilson)

Here’s How to Make It: Supplies:

a pen and paper

Cotton twill tape or a natural fibre ribbon 6-8 inches in length, 2-3 inches in width. If you will ever launder the bracelet, you should pre-wash the twill tape.


sewing needle


snaps are specified in these directions, but buttons, Velcro, and jewelry clasps work well too.

tiny rubber alphabet stamps (smaller in size than the width of the ribbon) or fabric markers which will dye the fabric. I purchased my stamps at Michael’s in the party favours section, and each set only cost me $1.50 for the full alphabet.

fabric-ink (I purchased a brand called Momento Luxe, but any fabric paint will work)

an iron and a pressing cloth

pinking shears (optional)


A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on Sep 9, 2014 at 7:59am PDT

 Step 1: Write your Six Word Story/Poem – Take a pen and a scrap of paper and WRITE! Don’t hesitate, just try! (turn this page over and use the back!) Write the first thing that comes out of your head. Usually we have something in our subconscious that is dying to get out. Go with it. Not sure? Read it aloud to another person  and get their feedback. There’s no right way or wrong way to write a six word short story, but it might be easier to think that your six words have a ‘beginning’, a ‘middle’, and a ‘end’. Don’t like it? Write another – just six words. Keep going until you come up with one that you like. Go as fast as you can – eliminate your inner editor! Have a story that you like? Good! Now, pick your favourite one and transform it into a bracelet! Don’t like it? Start writing again!

Step 2: Make Your Bracelet ­– Cut a length of ribbon to fit your wrist (6-8″ is standard). Pinking shears will give a semi-finished edge, but I also recommend finishing ends with binding tape, or hand sewing a finished edge. Using a flat ribbon is recommended but pieces of linen, binding tape, and twill tape, in a natural fibre, will also work for printing. Attach a clasp to the wrong (non-shiny side) of the ribbon.

Step 3: Print Your Poem – Using rubber stamps and archival ink, your poem will be stamped onto the ribbon. I suggest planning where each word will go (words longer than 10 letters may take some creative placement) before you stamp, and then stamping one letter at a time. It may be erratic and look a bit messy, but both life and stories are like that, so embrace your mistakes. Don’t have rubber stamps? Handwrite your message onto the ribbon with a fabric ink pen. Decide what kind of handwriting works best for your story – is it script or block printed? Fine penmanship, or stylistic lettering? FInished writing or stamping it out? Ta-da, you now have a six word story bracelet!  


A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on Sep 9, 2014 at 9:31pm PDT

Step 4: After Care – For longevity, I recommend heat-setting your ink with an iron once the ink is dried. Cover your bracelet with a ‘pressing cloth’ (a scrap piece of cotton or old pillowcase will work well) and iron the right-side (the inky side) for a few minutes with an iron set to medium heat (do not use the steam setting).

Step 5: Share Your Story – Stories are meant to be seen by others. I’d love to see a photo of your finished project or hear about your experience making it! Send it to me at info@leanneprain.com or @leanneprain!

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Published on November 11, 2014 22:10 • 3 views

November 5, 2014

Our epic book tour came to a close tonight, with free cake from our bartender. I can’t believe that it is over. I am going to miss @kpwerker & @craftivista so much! #dc #Washington

A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on Oct 10, 2014 at 8:59pm PDT

Phew, has it really been three weeks since my book tour ended? Sometimes it feels like seconds, and other time it seems like YEARS since I was on the road with Betsy and Kim.

The first stop of our East Coast Tour was the Textile Museum of Canada. Have you ever been? If not, go! The museum has an exhibit on about textiles and story-telling Telling Stories that is on until January 25th, and I’d highly recommend it. In fact, Betsy came across some pieces that she’d been researching online for her new exhibition, and up until that moment, she had no idea that they were part of the permanent collection in Toronto. The museum is really a treasure.

Being in Toronto felt like a home-coming for me, because I’d been there a year ago to do research for Strange Material, and it was wonderful to be talking about the book in the place that I’d been writing it. Amy Singer, editor and creator of Knitty.com hosted our conversation – and we also had an appearance from one of my favourite Toronto icons Kingi Carpenter of Peach Berzerk. I’d written a fan letter to her when I was 17, so it was so fun to meet her in person.

Amid visiting some of my favourite Toronto people, Betsy and I had the craziest lunch at the world at this place: Mystic Muffin. The owner is a true character, and I’d highly recommend eating there if you are ever in Toronto. We were told what to order (it was delicious), his happy toddler occupied one corner of the restaurant in her playpin, and we watched him comp a fireman lunch. All in all, it was a wacky experience and I’m still smiling from it because it was my favourite kind of harmless chaos.

Our next tour stops were in Philly and Boston, and in both cities there was a heavy rainstorm that seemed to be following us from city to city. Luckily the rain didn’t deter people from coming to our events and we had some very interesting conversations at both events. Garth Johnson, of Extreme Craft, was our host in the Philadelphia at  The University of the Arts. Before the event we had drinks and he showed us photos of his wife, Claire Joyce’s, artwork – she is a glitter artist. At first  I didn’t know what Garth meant, but then I had my mind blown. Look at this. Yes, all of it is glitter.

Rainy #Philly A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on Oct 10, 2014 at 1:12pm PDT

After less than 24 hours in Philly, it was onto Boston. We ended up waiting in the airport for a couple of hours, in which time we sought out famous Philly pretzels and watched the piped in CNN. By the time we got to Boston, we were soaked and tired, so we decided to hide in a basement of Lucky’s, a fabulous bar where I ate the best clam chowder of my life, and I’m from the Pacific Northwest, so that’s saying something. 

Boston clam chowder makes me very happy. #Boston A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on Oct 10, 2014 at 2:31pm PDT


Escaping the storm at #Luckys #Boston

A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on Oct 10, 2014 at 1:17pm PDT

 A stellar group of women joined us for dinner (if you are interested in craft, business or social media, I suggest looking all of them up online – they all have stellar resources for creative businesses on their websites): Meighan O’Toole (who was our host at ICA) – blogger, digital strategist, and super-cool lady; Abby Glassenberg –  soft toy designer, podcaster, blogger at whileshenaps.com; and Caro Sheridan, knitwear photographer and crafter.   

Boston was so much fun! Off to Brooklyn tomorrow. A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on Oct 10, 2014 at 7:59pm PDT

The ICA in Boston has a stunning workroom, which included crafted walls. Despite the rainy night, we had a very satisfying conversation about craft, perfection, and curation. I’m used to people connecting my name to my first book Yarn Bombing, so it was really wonderful to meet several people from Boston who knew me through my second book Hoopla, the Art of Unexpected Embroidery. Unfortunately the storm had us arriving to the venue just on time, so we didn’t get to see the new exhibit Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present, which looks stunning. If you go, drop me a line and tell me about it. I wish I could go back to Boston just to visit it and spend more time with the fabulous women that we met. It was a very special night.

The craft room at ICA #Boston. Such a great venue for our panel tonight.

A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on Oct 10, 2014 at 6:41pm PDT

We only had a day in Boston, so the next morning we were of to the train station to head to Brooklyn. It was my first time travelling by train on the East Coast and it was so pretty. I tried to catch a bit of it with my iphone:  

  So, the train from Boston to New York is super pretty.   A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on Oct 10, 2014 at 8:03pm PDT

New York is my happy place. There was a guy playing steel drums behind us. #nyc A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on Oct 10, 2014 at 8:09pm PDT

Our panel discussion in Brooklyn was at a beautiful making space called the Brooklyn Craft Company. So many of the artists who have been in my books were in attendance: Philip Stearns, Maria Damon, Iviva Olenick, Tamar Stone, Gina Dawson, and even Matilde and Chris Tumim of Tumim and Pendergast (who were featured in Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery) who were visiting New York from Scotland. It was such a thrill of me to see all of these people in one room. 

  Regram from @bkcraftco from last nights panel. It was wonderful to finally meet so many of the artists that I’ve profiled in my books face to face.   A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on Oct 10, 2014 at 5:24am PDT

In Brooklyn, we taught another creativity workshop at Makeshift Brooklyn. There were lots of stories and lots of ugly creatures! Some of participants had travelled several hours from their homes to take this workshop – we felt honoured that they had gone to so much effort. Makeshift Brooklyn is just as cool as Makeshift San Francisco.


The creatures that were made during yesterday’s Make, Mend & Reflect workshop. Regram from @kpwerker with @craftivista


A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on Oct 10, 2014 at 6:36am PDT

Brooklyn was our longest tour stop which afforded us some time in the city. We visited Lotta Jansdotter‘s studio (not a surprise, she’s incredibly nice and humble) during the Gowanus Open Studios with Iviva Olenick and a dinner with crafter/artists and Make Magazine writers Andrew Salomone (check out his knit masks!), Haley of Zen of Making (who cooks delicious bread and soup) and Kim’s literary agent Kate.

Lotta Jansdotter’s Studio. #brooklyn #latergram

A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on Oct 10, 2014 at 1:57pm PDT

The next morning, after an official Brooklyn lunch with Betsy and Sarah, I was able to sneak in a visit to The Brooklyn Museum to see Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party. Seeing it in person for the first time sparked a lot of questions and theories, which I won’t get into right now for brevity, but I think needs another blog post.

Today I got to see Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party in person. After reading about it for so many years, it was such a treat to see it in person. #feminism #stillRelevant #women #art #BrooklynMuseum

A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on Oct 10, 2014 at 2:14pm PDT

Our final stop was in Betsy’s home town of Washington, DC. Nora Atkinson, curator of the about to be re-opened (currently under renovation) Smithsonian Renwick Gallery was our moderator. While we discussed craft, creativity and politics – Nora had THE BEST opening question: “what’s your superhero power?”

As you can imagine, hilarity ensued. You can’t get too serious at the Smithsonian.



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Published on November 05, 2014 14:36 • 5 views

October 24, 2014

Post image for Chat with me!

Let’s talk about fibre, textiles, gender, craftivism, design, art, high-brow vs low-brow, and story-telling of all sorts!

This Sunday, October 26th, I will be the guest artist/author at FibreArts Now online chat FANFARE! I hope you’ll joining editor Cami Smith and I for a lively discussion, and I will be answering questions live via the internets.  The chat will start at 1 pm PST / 3 pm EST.


FAN Fare is a free, online, interactive, web show devoted to inspiring and connecting the fiber arts community. Every month, FAN Fare will give viewers the opportunity to actively participate in the program and ask questions while watching the live show. The host, Cami Smith, has been involved with Fiber Art Now since it first started. She has been building the FAN community and connecting with artists and authors for three years.

If you attended a stop on my recent book tour and have a question you didn’t get to ask then, please jump in! If you didn’t live in any of the cities we visited, I hope that we’ll meet online Sunday. During my recent book tour, I left each conversation in each city with ton of ideas that I wanted to hash out further, so I’m really excited to do this with Cami this weekend.


How to Participate

There are two ways you can enjoy FAN Fare: either by joining the live program or watching it later, at your convenience.

1. Attend the FAN Fare program. Watch live, and use the chat or question box to follow along with the conversation of the other viewers. You will be able to participate with questions or comments.

2. Watch the recorded episode. Check back here to see the archived episodes for topics of interest, and watch as many as you like. Archives will appear on the page.


For those of you who are looking for a recap of our MASSIVE East Coast tour, I promise that I will sit down this Saturday and provide one epic update of photos and stories. Jet-lag and catch-up at home has gotten the better of me, and I want to do it when I feel refreshed (aka not running off to my day job).


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Published on October 24, 2014 07:57 • 4 views

October 12, 2014

Kim, Betsy, and I wrapped up the West Coast portion of our Make Your Voice Heard tri-author book tour on Tuesday night. I’ve been resting, repacking, and recalibrating every since. It was my intention to write about Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver separately but we didn’t have many moments of rest in the last two cities – that, and I have to say that my head is bursting with new project ideas…so many new ideas, no time right now to execute any of them …


We began our trip in PDX with the classic Portland Airport shoe-fie photo. Guess who is who?

View on Instagram

We had a number of gracious hosts in Portland – including Kari, Isaac, and Shana (who so willingly put two strangers up in her house!). After an evening of hanging out and eating at the newest food cart pod Tidbit Food Farm and Garden, we had a jam-packed ay of events. Isaac and Maker’s Nation hosted our workshop Make, Mend and Reflect at an amazing co-working space called Tillamook Station as part of Portland Design Week. As part of the workshop, we all made ugly creatures under Kim’s guidance. Guess which one is mine?



Ugly creatures group shot! View on Instagram

Lisa Walker England, one of the workshop participants, wrote a blog post on the workshop (thanks for the mention Lisa!) and something I said during the writing/story-telling session even made it onto a Portland Design Week Flag! Betsy followed with a calming session of stitching, mediating, and reflecting.


Pics from Make, Mend, Reflect Workshop at Tillamook Station in Portland. #latergram

View on Instagram

After Tillamook Station, there was a quick stop for drinks with some friends in the design field, and then it was off to Powell’s City of Books for a panel hosted by designer/illustrator Kate Bingaman-Burt. Yes, we did kind of geek out about being at Powell’s. The staff was really nice, not only did they give us a room to chill out in, they even let us sign their visiting author book. We felt very official.



View on Instagram


Our panel at Powells tonight. #latergram

View on Instagram

I go to Portland at least once a year, but I have to say that this trip was really incredible – Design Week had a exciting vibe and it was so good to meet up with people who are doing their own design side projects – such as Melissa (Portland Designers in the Madmen Era) and Mike (A Ziggy Stardust Show). I’ve decided to clear my schedule for design week next year and attend the full week of events. After two whirlwind days in Portland, it was off to Seattle where we met Haley and Kate, who work for Kim’s publisher Sasquatch Books and Chelsey, the promotional wunderkind who set up our tour. Marlo Miyashiro was a wonderful moderator for a discussion that became my favourite of the entire tour! We traced how we each got into craft and writing books, and I got to ruminate over the future of craft publishing (which, trust me, is something that I can talk about for HOURS). And, then we got to go out for grilled cheese sandwiches and bourbon. Seattle knows how to live.



.@craftivista matched the party decor that Kate & Haley of @sasquatchbooks brought to our Seattle launch. #latergram View on Instagram

After 24 hours in the Emerald City, we were on the Bolt Bus to Vancouver, BC (home for Kim and I). It was only Betsy’s second time in the city, and while I’d hope to show her more but the inside of my apartment and thai food on Main Street was as far as we got before our last event at Hot Art, Wet City - a wonderful little gallery that I think everyone should know about. Naturally, some of my favourite people showed up….


View on Instagram

Thanks to everyone who came out through San Francisco, Oakland, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver to celebrate with us! I can’t wait to hear what you think of the book. Tomorrow we fly out bright and early to Toronto, so my next blog post will detail some East Coast adventures – hopefully not all of them in one post! For the details of our East Coast schedule, check out my events page. We’ll be in Toronto, Philly, Boston, Brooklyn, and DC – and we’ll be teaching one last Make, Mend, Reflect workshop at Makeshift Brooklyn (tickets still available!).

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Published on October 12, 2014 23:16 • 1 view

October 3, 2014

Post image for Greetings from Oakland!

It’s day three of our Make Your Voice heard tour, and Kim Werker and I are working away at a Peet’s Coffee Shop in Oakland, California.

Yesterday we had a fabulous day of touring San Francisco with artist Sonya Philip who gave a true tour with stops at Scrap San Francisco (@scrapsf), a non-profit urban recycling centre focused on reuse for artists, teachers and makers and food stops at famous Tartine Bakery and tacos in the Mission District (which are just famously delicious).

Following our first event at The Booksmith in Haight Ashbury, SF (see pic above) with Rena Tom, we were hosted by Lisa Congdon at Diesel Bookstore, a wonderful bookstore here in Oakland, California. It was a thrill to hash out topics of creativity, creative demons, ‘women’s work’, and creating in the age of social media with these amazing smart women to a full house in Oakland.

We also snuck in a mac & cheese dinner with the amazing knit lit author Rachael Herron, who is a total delight to talk to about life, writing, knitting and all things in-between. My head is spinning from such a wonderful couple of days. I’ve been instagramming my favourite moments as they happen.

Both bookstores are really perfect bookstores in the sense that they love books and the people who write them – we spent our time before the panel at Diesel writing on their lists of “10 Books that Influenced Your Life”. With handwritten shelf talkers (the recommendation cards that stick out from bookshelves) and attentive staff, both are prime examples of  why we need small bookstores to thrive and flourish – there’s a personal care that you receive as both an author or a reader that a big box store or online retailer just can’t replicate. I heart independent booksellers (and if you do too, check out Diesel’s Indiegogo for a refurb after 25 years).

Part of our adventure at Scrap SF was collecting materials for our workshop tonight at MakeShift Society San Francisco. Kim will be leading participants through creating their own Mighty Ugly Creature, I will follow this up with some creativity prompts, and Betsy will finish our Round Robin with her own thoughts on sewing and psychology. There’s still a few spots left, and you can register here.

Tomorrow, we’ll be catching a fight to be part of a panel at Powell’s City of Books in Portland for Design Week and a workshop with MakerNation. For details of Portland, Seattle, and our other tour stops, visit my event page.

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Published on October 03, 2014 12:47 • 3 views

September 30, 2014

Yarn Bombing of Union Square by Ish Knits, 2012

A yarn bombing of Union Square by IshKnits, 2013

In less than 24 hours, Betsy Greer, Kim Werker and I will be in San Francisco! We’re so pleased to be starting our multi-city author tour Make Your Voice Heard: The Intersection of Craft, Creativity, and Activism of North America to celebrate our three new books. I hope that you’ll be able to come join us at an event, as not only will there be our trifecta of voices but we have some truly amazing people moderating our conversations!

Here’s where we will be (and who we will be with!) in the Bay Area:

Our Host in San Francisco Rena Tom

Makeshift Founder, craft & small business sage, and marketing editor of Anthology Magazine Rena Tom will be our host in San Francisco. 

SAN FRANCISCO – panel discussion

Wednesday, October 1st, 7:30pm. Free!

Booksmith, San Francisco, CA

Moderated conversation with Rena Tom

RSVP on Facebook


Artist and illustrator extraordinaire Lisa Congdon (and author of the recently released Art Inc.) will be our host in Oakland. 

OAKLAND – panel discussion

Thursday, October 2nd, 7pm. Free!

Diesel Bookstore, Oakland, CA

Moderated conversation with Lisa Congdon

RSVP on Facebook


Lovely Makeshift Society – where we’ll be teaching creative workshops in Brooklyn and San Francisco! I’ll be teaching some writing methods to loosen your brain and ego for creative projects and I promise that it will fun and *not scary*!

SAN FRANCISCO – creativity workshop!

Friday, October 3rd, 6:30pm

MakeShift Society, San Francisco, CA

Hands-on Workshop (Purchase here!)

Betsy Greer will tour in support of Craftivism: The Art & Craft of Activism (Published May 2014). I will share Strange Material: Storytelling Through Textiles (Brand new tomorrow! October 1 2014). Kim Werker will tour in support of Make it Mighty Ugly: Exercises and Advice for Getting Creative Even When It Ain’t Pretty (September 2014).

Following the Bay Area, we will be travelling for panels and workshops in Portland, Seattle, Vancouver BC, Toronto, Philly (details pending), Boston, Brooklyn and DC. See the full tour line-up here: http://www.leanneprain.com/events.

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Published on September 30, 2014 15:14 • 2 views

September 21, 2014

Kent State Sweatshirt by Urban Outfitters

Earlier this week, my blood boiled at a news story. Mass clothing retailer Urban Outfitters  claimed that they had NO idea that a recent bloodied Kent State sweatshirt that they manufactured had a link to violence.

Zara tshirt and Auschwitz Children

This story came on the tails of another, weeks earlier clothing retailer Zara was under a storm of criticism for producing a t-shirt for children that resembled Nazi concentration camp uniforms. Apparently Zara feigned innocence – citing designer’s unawareness of the historical reference (and apparently the same unawareness among the manufacturers, the sales teams, the merchandisers, etc…etc…who all work for the company. To which I say, really? Hundreds of people are involved in the garment manufacturer process and not a single soul noticed?)

I’ve been mulling over how to write about these two events when I came across this brilliant video by Fred McConnell and Laurence Topham of The Guardian UK:

Urban Outfitters Kent State Sweatshirt video

Do you see the common element in each retailer’s statement? Essentially: the designer didn’t know. The designer didn’t have cultural awareness. The designer isn’t aware of history, or textile history.

Garments, by their very existence can drum up all sorts of feelings, historical significance, and cultural connotations. I want there to be a greater awareness that textiles have meaning – just as much as any other object that we choose to surround ourselves with. This is why I wrote Strange Material – I hope it contributes to a growing body of work around textile conversations and discourse. Collectively, the world needs to know more about the stories that surround cloth and symbols and those who make them – not just those of us who are heavily interested in textiles and craft but everyone. I assume that before Zara and Urban Outfitters got called out, some of those pieces of clothing were purchased and worn, in public.

This rant follows the news that the intelligent fashion journal WORN, is retiring, which is a little heart-breaking. The WORN fashion journal had a mandate unlike any other fashion magazine and it will be missed:

“WORN hasn’t missed the fact that there are scads of fashion magazines out there. But we feel something is missing: opinion and intelligent commentary that’s untainted by advertisers’ demands. 

WORN discusses the cultures, subcultures, histories, and personal stories of fashion. We strive to embody a place between pop culture magazine and academic journal that opens new avenues in art and fashion theory by hovering where these two ideas intersect, connecting with fashion scholars and artists. We pay attention to how what is worn is made, interpreted, transformed, disseminated, and copied. “

Worn’s last issue is available for pre-order* and I’d recommend it, we obviously need more commentary on textiles, and fashion, that create critical awareness.

*I am not affiliated with WORN in any way. I am endorsing this magazine because I think we need to support more intelligent commentary on the things that we wear and purchase, and it was one of the few publications that actively provided this sort of commentary.

Also, I’ll be speaking my mind on this and other subjects on panels with Kim Werker and Betsy Greer over the next month. If you haven’t had a chance to find out about our tour, all events are listed here. One week from today I’ll be Seattle at Schoolhouse Craft teaching a course on subversive textiles and activism. If you are in Seattle, please think of joining the conference! It will be a great time with a lot of interesting people, and I’ll be running a fun making session at the closing party on making Six Word Story Bracelets (DIY to come!).

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Published on September 21, 2014 14:13 • 3 views

September 7, 2014

Post image for Silvie Kilgallon’s Stitched Illiad

Now THIS is a feat.

Classics student and artist Silvie Kilgallon is attempting to stitch all twenty-four books of Homer’s Illiad.

She’s chronicling her daily process here: http://stitchediliad.tumblr.com.

Silvie has published a wonderful artist statement about her work, including this statement on how a great classic work can translate to the act of stitching:

“Here, I attempt to take on the role of translator to reveal the depth and beauty of this text to those who do not understand the language or the culture. Each letter of the ancient Greek alphabet has been assigned a corresponding colour in embroidery threads. Using the text as a pattern my aim is to stitch out all twenty-four books of the  Iliad  with a single stitch representing a single letter in the text-pattern. With each passing book one of the red colours will be substituted instead for a blue thread. What letters these red and blue threads represent will be consisted over the course of the work. Hopefully when it is finally complete, it will be a work of spectacle, aesthetic beauty and complexity worthy of the title of epic.”


The Stitched Illiad

This image is of the first book, taken from Silvie’s blog. 


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Published on September 07, 2014 15:00 • 2 views