As part of our whirlwind visit to Quito, we decided to take a day trip to Otavalo, a town famous through the country for its Saturday market. Otavalo is home to a large population of indigenous people, and they make an amazing array of handicrafts, particularly woven textiles. If I ever got a chance, I would love to visit where they actually make the stuff, because it is pretty amazing.

Joel and I visited Otavalo 4 years ago on my first visit to Ecuador, and I was pretty impressed then. I knew I wanted to go, but we weren’t sure if we’d be able to fit it in. It’s a 2 hour bus ride from Quito, so it’s a big time commitment just to get there and back, and we were on the fence about whether it would be worth it to make the girls go through that (have I mentioned that they throw up pretty much without fail every time we ride a bus?), but in the end it was definitely worth it.

After getting off the bus, this was the first thing that caught our eye. I think those are green onions sticking out of its ears. What, you’ve never seen a restaurant with a complete roasted beast dressed to greet you at the entrance?

The next thing the girls saw were these little guys. Always an attention grabber.

And then I saw this. (Even in Spanish, you know a 30%-off sign when you see it.)

And then this. I know this may not look like much, but for someone who has been completely starved for craft shopping in the last 4 months, this was a sight for sore eyes, even though I didn’t buy anything.

The market is HUGE. It spills out of ever shop and fills the streets with booths selling piles and piles of handmade goodness. It’s so completely overwhelming, especially when you think of how many hours went into all the handmade wares for sale. Thinking of just the hours weaving is dizzying. I didn’t photograph even 1/100th of what there was, since I was carrying a squawking toddler most of the time, but you can kind of get an idea of how big it was.

We walked.

And walked. I wanted to find piles of yarn for sale, as I had seen when we came 4 years ago, but was out of luck. I did find one shop selling yarn in the end, but the selection was pretty limited, so it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for.

Ah, the textiles. The textiles.

Our first time in Otavalo, I was pretty moderate with my purchases, but this time, I didn’t hold back. The girls each got a traditional Otavalan dress, an alpaca sweater (so soft and cute) and a new drum.

The drums were as effective as cow bells for keeping the girls from getting lost in the crowd. And they helped keep the girls’ spirits up while we trekked along. I highly recommend them. 

Stacks of Panama hats with an array of hand-woven hat bands. Bonus trivia: Panama hats actually originated in Ecuador, but received their misnomer because they were shipped to the States through the Panama Canal.

We ate at the same little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that Joel and I ate at 4 years ago. A little harder with 2 kids, but still delicious. We had fritada, which is absolutely what you must eat when you go to Otavalo. I don’t know the name of the restaurant (sorry) but just look for a window with a woman laboring over a huge wok-looking thing filled with potatoes, chunks of pork, and other delectables sizzling in hot pig fat. Mmm.

I took a few pictures of the girls on the bus ride home. They were just too adorable in those sweaters.

Thanks for the good time, Otavalo. ‘Til we meet again.

Shameless self promotion, i.e., Proof I have been up to something

Do you guys know what Spoonflower is? If you don’t you should check it out. Well, they had a little contest, and it was right up my alley, so I whipped something up and entered. What do you know, out of more than 700 entries, I made it into the semi-final round of 100. My internet connection is not allowing me to upload pictures to my blog, but you should go to the website and check it out (and while you’re there, vote for mine). My design is in there as “Rebecca Rendon Circles” (lame name, but I literally entered this thing 5 minutes before submissions closed, so there was no time to change it). I would love to make it to the top 8 and design a collection, so if you want to go there and support me, that would be great. Thanks.

Hopefully more creative stuff to come soon. Have a wonderful day!

ps. Still no internet in my house, so every post involves a trek; bored, hungry, screaming children; and spotty internet function, at best. Sorry, don’t give up on me, I will try to get some better posts coming. Thanks again for your patience.

Fabric Boxes/Baskets: A Small Victory

My sewing machine has been busily humming away the last few days. That is, it would be humming if it could hum, but mostly it just makes a loud noise akin to a food processor grinding rocks (is that normal? It’s been doing that as long as I’ve had it). Anyways, I have been doing a few sewing projects that I want to get done during my last week of convalescence, since I think I’ll be returning to my editing role next week.

These fabric baskets/boxes have been on my to-make list for a while. I don’t  have many containers for anything that isn’t made of cardboard with “Office Max” or “Huggies/Pampers/Luvs” on the side of them, unless you count a couple of plastic ice cream buckets. One of my goals this year has been to beautify my home, and I decided to start with this little project that would hopefully help me get organized as well.

I wanted to make bigger boxes, so I decided to go with this tutorial from Oh, Fransson!, sort of (I’m still planning on trying some smaller boxes using the other tutorial, as well). I didn’t use the interfacing layering techniques that she did, I just used one layer of cotton batting and one layer of cotton buckram. Also, I alternated the boxes so that the quilting is on the inside of the middle one. And I made them bigger, of course.

The dimensions are roughly 10 1/4 by 8 1/4, 9 1/4 by 7 1/4, and 8 1/4 by 6 1/4. They took a while to do, with all the quilting and everything, but I think they would have gone faster if my sewing machine hadn’t given me so much grief. It kept jamming and breaking threads, and the tension kept randomly changing. So frustrating! I’m starting to think it may be nearing its death throes. Hopefully not, but maybe I should start saving for a new machine.

So, about the pieced box, it was totally unplanned. I was going to do it like the small one, with quilted pink on the outside so the three boxes would alternate. Here’s how things went: I cut out all the pieces I would need for the middle size box and started working on the box. Then I decided that I wanted to make 2 more boxes, so I first cut out all the pieces for two more boxes in the pink and had just a little rectangle left over, but when I went to cut the brown, I realized that I didn’t have enough. I had gotten a half yard of both colors, both were approximately the same width, so I couldn’t figure it out. The brown half yard had been cut rather wonky and was 2 inches short of half a yard, so that might have been the problem. Regardless, I had three options: order more brown (no way!), use a different color, or try to piece together enough pink and brown to make it work.


In retrospect, I should have just ordered more brown, I would have saved me hours of frustration trying my hand at “improvisational piecing,” which I think is best left to more skilled quilters than myself. The linen was hard enough working with in large pieces, so when it got down to the small pieces, forget about straight lines. By the end I was scrounging every last little piece I could find to make the pieces big enough. I didn’t like it until I sewed the box together, and then it all seemed to come together, almost miraculously. What do you think? Any tips for sewing with linen.

Finally, I quilted the boxes with some organic lines (my first time machine quilting, too). I like the way this turned out, and the quilting was easier than I thought it would be, until the thread started breaking every five stitches.

I learned that there I had to compromise with my project because I wanted to use a natural interfacing (buckram); the boxes weren’t quite as stiff as I wanted them to be, but it wasn’t too big of a problem for me.

All in all, a fun project that helped me practice a bunch of different skills. It turned out to be a small victory in several ways. I got over my hesitation of cutting into my beautiful linen, I learned a little bit about piecing and machine quilting, and I saw firsthand the importance of accurate sewing and cutting (I definitely could use some more practice with this). And most of all, I didn’t smash my sewing machine to pieces for all the grief it was giving to me, which was a major victory for my self-control.

Now to put these baskets to work!

p.s. I’m linking this post herehere, and here.

Full Spectrum in Linen

I would not consider myself a fabric addict. No, after perusing many a sewing blog, I have come to see that there really are people out there with a serious, chronic, incurable fabric addiction, which is totally fine, but I am just not one of them.

That being said, I can understand the feeling of wanting hoarding material and supplies for various creative mediums. This is something I have a problem with, and since I’ve started a little sewing, I have felt the urge to procure some raw materials (i.e. fabric) for the purpose.

So  I used the rest of a Christmas bonus gift card to buy a few half yards of fabric. And then right after that there was a sale, so I decided to get some more colors.

But not just any fabric. Linen. Yep, and not just any linen. Linen in luscious colors.

Maybe I do have a problem. Like: what am I going to do with all this linen? Any ideas?