In his book, What Color is Your Parachute?,  Richard Bolles writes that we are all primarily geared toward one of three interests:  people, data or things. For most of my life I’ve thought I was a people person. But the older I get, the more I think I may really be a things person. In my experience with people, I’ve learned that they can be messy, complicated, and let’s face it – frequently disappointing. Now don’t get me wrong, I would never give up on people (some of my best friends are people), but things themselves rarely disappoint and can be quite beautiful and useful. And I like them even better if I make them myself. So this little log on the web is about my material world (though that title was already taken) and the things I make – mostly textiles, but not always. If you are also someone who likes to make things and even if you’re not, I hope you’ll find some idea or resource that you can use here.

A few other things about me:

My name is Colleen.

I was born in Southern California in the 1960s. I grew up in a large household of seven people and six dogs (not all six at one time thank goodness). I still live in California, but further north and in a smaller household of three people, one cat and one dog.

Since I finished college, I’ve been a university housing coordinator, a program and service manager for a career development non-profit, and an interior design assistant. My dream jobs are window dresser and product designer.

My favorite Beatle is George.

This blog is for Samantha.



  1. Janell

    Greetings! I stumbled upon your beach blanket project via pinterest…. and I have to ask… is there a certain lagoon and Italian named apartment “complex” near the pier? I’m from the same area myself and find myself desperately homesick now that I live some 3000 miles away. If that pier is where I think it is, I just heaved a little sigh of fond childhood memories from that beach.

  2. Cara Williams

    Colleen – you sound like someone I’d like to know. I found your blog through the elimination process of choosing a name for my own blog…so thank you for helping me narrow my options. I, too, am from southern California and now live further north. I also work in career development on the campus of my non-profit school where I am pursuing a degree in Interior Design. Mostly, though, I also love materials. All the materials of life.

  3. Christina

    Hi Colleen,

    My name is Christina, and I’m currently designing a set for La Traviata in Australia and NZ.

    I’ve produced a collage for one of the scenic cloths in the production, and I’ve realised that I’ve used a photo of yours that I looked at during my research, but have not asked permission to use it. I’m so very sorry for this mistake!

    The image in question is of a beautiful pink camellia – the file was called “img_2034”. I’ve used a portion of it once in the collage, and it takes up about 10% or a little less of the final image.

    I’d be very happy to send the collage to you if you’d like to see it in context. Please be assured that the collage is not for sale – it will be used as a set item in the Opera.

    Once again, I’m very sorry for not contacting you sooner, and I do hope you’ll consider granting me permission to use part of your beautiful image.

    Kind regards,
    Christina Smith

    • Hi Christina,
      That sounds intriguing. Yes, you have my permission to use the camellia image for your set design. Thanks for asking. I’d love to see your collage; how can I do so? Thank you –

  4. Christina

    Hi Colleen,

    Thank you so much, I really appreciate it.
    I could email you the concept sketches if you like? Not sure of your email address though, I was hoping you could see mine when I commented!

    Thanks again,

  5. Hey! We met today in line at the fabric store. Your toilet-roll knitting machine is fantastic– I am going to have to make one of those! I work with kids (mostly sewing) but that looks like a great starter. One of the kids I teach is left-handed, so I have difficulty modeling proper hand placement. This should help!

    • Oh my gosh Amy; I just commented on your baby toy, but I’m not sure it actually went through! I really think you have something iconic on your hands there … bravo to you!
      I was just toilet paper roll knitting with some kids in the library today at my daughter’s school; kids love it. I think there is something about making the tool itself (& with an old cardboard toilet paper tube yet!) that is so appealing and fun and it is a great way to learn to knit. Pulling loops through loops is what it’s all about.
      Let me know if you didn’t get my comment so I can post it again before I forget what I said 🙂

  6. Hi Colleen,
    You have some really great things going on here. I stumbled across your site while looking for ideas of what to include in our new local magazine, Granite CIty Magazine in St. Cloud MN. This is for our first issue (October 2014) and in true form, we are working up until press time tomorrow. I would love to be able to feature your Toilet Paper Roll Knitting in our Just for Fun section. We are trying to engage all ages and stages in our family friendly community magazine and I think this would be a fantastic project to feature. May I have your permission to use the images and idea? I would of course give proper credit and send you a copy as well 🙂

    Thank you so much for your consideration!
    Candace Grabinger
    Creative Director
    Granite City Magazine

  7. Hi Colleen. It’s Caitlin from the Shingled House (from the Chron piece). I’m so glad to have discovered your blog. I too have a love of making things and you have a treasure trove of stuff here, all so perfectly executed! (Can’t wait to bang out some pj bottoms with french seams ooo la la)

    • Oh I’m so glad Caitlin and thank you! I have to tell you one more thing about your toilet plungers – no kidding, on my way to pick up yesterday’s paper I heard John Tesh on the radio say that everyone should keep a plunger in plain sight in their guest bathroom (for obvious reasons, but not so lovely to look at) and then I find yours that very afternoon – perfect!

  8. Melinda Haines

    Thank you for posting the Rice Table. My dad (91) was talking about it the other night. Your’s was the one I used to make. So it will be our Easter Dinner.

  9. Hi Colleen,
    I read your article about the sleeping bag you have made. Great job!

    I would love to work with you on a product design I have in mind for new kind of sleeping bag that I would like to be produced in Kenya at a school In co-founded in the slums of Nairobi Kenya (eventually). If that sounds interesting to you, please text or email me.


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