An eye for :: orange & pink

A selection of orange and pink products and images

Ever since Miss Brandi released her week 26 colour palette (#1) I have had an eye for orange and pink. I cannot seem to get away from it and when doing some research for uni this week I had to incorporate these colours into an assignment. To satisfy my current obsession I put together a glorious range of orange and pink. Enjoy!

  1. Week 26 Color Palette from Brandi Girl Blog
  2. I don’t know the name of the photographer – I found this image here – via a Google image search. It’s the Indian Holi Feast.
  3. This gorgeous image is prolific on Pinterest and attributed to this Flickr member I could not find it among their photos
  4. Amy Borrell Print 1, The Big Bang (detail) via Little Paper Planes Shop
  5. Fabrics from Rajistan, India via this Fickr group
  6. Pink/Orange/Red : Pattern art print via Matt Edward Society 6 store
  7. Pink-orange-red squares via Eleanor McCain Art Quilts
  8. Hot Pink and Orange Tablecloth from Sally Campbell Handmade Textiles
  9. The timeless art of Mark Rothko via Splendid Willow blog
  10. Pink and Orange with Black Grosgrain Ribbon and Burlap Pillow Cover from Bouteille Chic Etsy store
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July 19, 2014 \ inspiration \ 1 comment

Inspired by :: small prints

A collection of small print fabrics

I’m really taken with small print fabrics at the moment and am quietly considering developing my own collection of prints. I’ve been doodling a lot.

I have a theory that sometimes you are drawn to things because they ‘fix’ areas of your life. My work life has been hectic and stressful and a couple of weeks ago I had what could only be described as a panic attack – well that’s what I deduced after all the weirdness had passed. I did some reading about them and one suggestion was don’t try and tell yourself to calm down but instead do something random like count backwards from 10, in other words distract yourself. So my distraction has been focusing on the details in small prints wherever I am, noticing how much energy is in a small print when seen from a distance and loving that they are so simple in the placement of motifs and colours used.

To keep me inspired I have added some equally gorgeous patterns to my ever growing Patterns & Motifs Pinterest board.

I think I’m OK – is this part of growing older?

My gorgeous selections are from:

1. Desicraft Shop – gorgeous Indian fabrics and more
2, 3, 4 & 5: Pallavik fabrics & more Etsy store

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July 12, 2014 \ inspiration \ 2 comments

Taking stock :: #1

Stack of grey knitted blankets

The idea for this post comes from the lovely Pip over at Meet me at Mikes. Actually I don’t know Pip at all but anyone who creates such gorgeous blankets and also wears clogs has to be lovely in my books. I saw her taking stock post last week and thought it would be a nice segue back into blogging land and out of silence. I’ve been wrestling with many things lately (not literally) so the last few weeks have been really exhausting. I hate it when I’m even too tired to blog. So here goes:

Making : A quilt that defies all my quilting logic
Cooking : So much soup – winter is finally here
Drinking : Stockholm blend tea from the Tea Centre
Reading: The Happiness Project and Steal Like an Artist
Wanting: A chunky knit blanket
Looking: Forward to some time off
Playing: Handball with my little one
Deciding: Whether I should paint a wall with Idea Paint
Wishing: The weeds would remove themselves from the garden
Enjoying: The cold morning cycle commutes to work
Waiting: For my new iMac to arrive
Liking: The new clear glass in our entryway
Wondering: Where the time has gone
Loving: That uni semester is over for 4 weeks
Pondering: A weekend away with my 3 best girlfriends
Considering: Teaching myself how to crochet so I can make these kitchen cloths
Watching: Lost in Austen – again
Hoping: To start on some new pattern designs
Marvelling: At how much my boys have grown in the last six months
Needing: An overlocker
Smelling: Frangipani
Wearing: My red funkis clogs
Following: Tractor Girl’s surface design posts
Noticing: How much my jolly monkey has improved in maths
Knowing: I need to let go sometimes and that’s OK
Thinking: Of planning a road trip to country Victoria with my boys
Feeling: Relieved that I made it to the end of semester
Admiring: My dear friend Brandi who always helps me gain perspective
Sorting: Through the clutter in the study in preparation for new carpet
Buying: New garage doors
Getting: Ready to redesign my blog using this theme
Bookmarking: Wood block stamps
Disliking: Really bad Canberra drivers
Opening: Pomegranates to make an autumn salad
Giggling: At the boys’ really bad jokes
Feeling: Optimistic after a really bad week
Snacking: On home made ANZAC biscuits
Coveting: This ring from The Silver Forge
Wishing: It were that easy
Helping: A beautiful friend in a difficult situation
Hearing: The wonderful sound of my little one trying to find the perfect Lego piece

The Soft gray image is via Pinterest and it really just makes me want to curl up and be kind to myself.

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June 7, 2014 \ sharing \ 1 comment

Working on :: new patterns

Initial drawing for a pattern design

Wow I’ve been busy – which explains why it’s taken so long between posts on this blog. I’m sure my blog was starting to feel neglected. Work and Uni have both been particularly demanding but I have had one win. I convinced my subject lecturer to let me create a surface pattern design collection for an upcoming assignment. How cool is that?

So remember a really long time ago, I said I wanted to create a pattern collection inspired by trampolines? No? That’s OK it was a while ago. Well here is the beginning sketches for this collection. My aim was to create patterns that would appeal to boys aged between 8 and 13. Since I have boys in that age range I know how hard it is to find nice patterns for bedding and my quilt making that didn’t contain a superhero or a Disney character. Both my boys do trampolining for sport and it really lent itself to a lot of movement and texture.

3 patterns from the Bounce collection

This is what I have so far, with 3 more in the works. The top print was done during The Sellable Sketch class I did with Michelle Fifis over at Pattern Observer. Michelle is an amazing fountain of knowledge and really helped me find a pattern making method that works for me. I’m still trying to figure out a scale for each print that works well across the collection as my main print is a large 33cm (W) x 64cm (H) repeat. It’s been a wonderful learning curve. I’ll let you know when it’s all done.

So what have you been working on lately?

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April 17, 2014 \ design \ 2 comments

Grief lives in the details

Issey Miyake Pleats Please poster by Syrup Cohen

When you talk to people who have lost someone close they eventually arrive at the point where it becomes the little things that make you miss them most.

Last week saw the coming and going of what would have been my mother’s 82nd birthday. It was a day of reflection and another day that I wished she was here to guide, to console and to make me laugh.

I have a cycle jacket that I love. It keeps me dry in the wet, protected from the wind and the extreme Canberra cold. It converts to a vest and it’s the most high viz yellow you can imagine. It has Issey Miyake style pleating across the shoulders that make it so easy to move in and whenever I wear it, which is practically every week, I want to call my Mum to tell her about this jacket. She would have loved the ingenuity of the design, she would have oohed and aahed over the pleats and she would probably have wanted to unpick all the seams to see how it was constructed.

Yes, I have spent another year without celebrating her birthday with her but it’s the details in that jacket that makes me momentarily forget that I can’t just call her.

It’s these little things that make me miss her the most.

Image above Pleats Please Issey Miyake 4 is copyright of Syrup Cohen – in case you didn’t know what Issey Miyake pleats look like. My Mum would have loved those colours.

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March 24, 2014 \ family \ 3 comments

Working on :: trend research

Evernote screenshot

For those that know me well, you will understandably be surprised to hear I’ve been engaged lately in trend research. I have never been a dedicated follower of fashion and I oscillate between one of two camps; 1 – that the item I love and cannot live without is also so far out of my budget to be rational or 2 – it simply does not exist. This is why I’ve spent most of my life either making it myself or doing without. This is the girl that made everything for her own wedding!

Having said all that though – I’ve been having a ball with trend research. I’ve been taking a class called the The Sellable Sketch with the gorgeous Michelle (my latest girl crush) over at Pattern Observer. I won’t go into too much detail as I have another post in the works to tell you about it – suffice to say Michelle had us doing trend research. I am not one to shy away from research, after all it is a very large part of my day job. The course came with a 3 month subscription to Stylesight a trend and forecasting website that is an amazing resource for colour, graphic and textiles trends for apparel and furnishings. They publish Megatrends for seasons in the area you might be interested in – I was researching youth for a fabric collection aimed at boys 8 – 14. If you are ever in need of a little shot of inspiration and direction, this is the place to go. To keep all my ideas in one place I could not have done it without Evernote – my most favourite go to app. Have you used it?

Color Collective samples

The other site that I came to love in the process was the Color Collective. There are quite a few sites out there that create inspiring colour palettes but I just loved her wonderful mix of gorgeous imagery of food, prints and current trends. For me I sometimes struggle to find the perfect colour palette for my patterns and these provide a really good jumping off point.

There was one person in the class who didn’t like this process and thought it was a giant waste of time. I would really love to know what you think. Have you ever done trend research? Do you think it’s important for designers to be aware of forecasting?

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March 14, 2014 \ design \ 5 comments

Thinking about :: colour contrast

Examples of colour contrast fails

I’ve been doing a lot of research this week. I’ve been seeing what trends are emerging in the web world as well as researching colour trends (more on that next week). In my extensive browsing I noticed a trend that is worrying and I wanted to share with you today some tricks for ensuring your blog or website is built for all.

The image above shows snippets I collected in my research travels from different blogs. Can you see the trend? If you said super small muted text colours then you would be correct. Do you see the problem? How easy is this text for you read? Are you, like me, struggling to read that button in the top left? Yes, I wear glasses but even with those on the effort to read that on screen is equivalent to an eye exam. In fact each of these have insufficient colour contrast to conform to WCAG 2.0 AA.

If this is news to you, let me give you a little background. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WGAG) are a set of documents that assist web designers, developers and writers create site content that is accessible by people with disabilities. The WCAG guidelines have 3 conformance levels A, AA & AAA. Most of us should be aiming for A at the very least. In my day job I work with a lot of Government and Education sites so they aim for AA conformance. There are few sites that will aim for AAA, except those that may want to based on the services they provide. The conformance levels are cumulative, which means to conform to AA you must also conform to A. There are many parts to the guidelines but today I just wanted to focus on colour contrast, which I should point out is not included in conformance level A.

So as I said each of my examples fails AA for colour contrast. What it tests is that a significant contrast (represented as a ratio) exists between the foreground colour and the background colour. There are variables to this though, which you may have already worked out. Sometimes the same contrast will not conform if the text is small, but will conform if the text size is increased. Are you surprised that the text block in the bottom left of my examples doesn’t conform?

colour contrast pass and fail

The tool I’m using here is the Color Contrast Analyzer that is available for download for Windows or Mac. I will provide you with links to a few more helpful tools and what each of them have in common is that you have to be able to determine the foreground and background colour by their hexadecimal code. Again there are a lot of tools to help you with this, I like to use ColorZilla, an Add On for Firefox, which provides an eyedropper that lets you select a colour on the screen. In my example above you can see that while this text fails when the text is small at both AA  (#1), if I increase the foreground slightly, then I pass the test (#2).

Right now I suppose you are wondering why you should bother when it’s not a requirement for Level A. This is a very valid point, however I think it’s very clear in these examples that they are just plain difficult to read and that doesn’t make good design sense, even if you are not aiming for WCAG 2.0 conformance. Almost all of these examples I collected are navigation elements, their purpose is to assist me to navigate the site and my experience in this site could be severely impeded if I struggle to read the labels.

Remember, colour contrast is just one check you can do on your blog or site. It does provide a concrete result, a pass or a fail. Some things are a very grey area especially when we start talking usability and sometimes you just have to make a judgement call. On this blog the hyperlink colours also fail AA conformance so I’m off to find a green that I both love and conforms – wish me luck!

Here’s some more tools that work well:

Final thought: Designing and building a blog that conforms to accessibility guidelines means none of your readers are disadvantaged – win, win I say. If you are curious to have a review of your own blog or site and see how well it conforms – please get in touch.

P.S. I have not provided links to the blogs that I collected these from because they represent the artistic license of some talented designers. While I may not agree with their design decisions my intention is not to negatively impact their livelihood.

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February 21, 2014 \ Web DIY \ 1 comment

Feeling cross

Products that use a cross motif

No I’m not really feeling cross, just a play on words (get it?). There were others on my list – star crossed, double cross, cross over, cross out, OK I’ll stop now. It’s an awesome word if you think about it, so many uses.

I’ve been noticing crosses in everything lately, even the latest Country Road catalogue has used them in products in their autumn/winter catalogue. It took me a sum total of 20 minutes to put this collection together on my Feeling Cross Pinterest Board. I’ve been so inspired by this collection that it’s served as the inspiration for my next WordPress theme. I’m sure that will help me get over my current cross obsession.

What do you think of the cross motif that’s found it’s way into home decor (and beyond) lately?

Cross goodness pictured above are:

  1. Blanket image via Pinterest. Originally pinned from Made in Oregon but no longer on their site
  2. Painted cross wall via le petit bird told me
  3. Contact Voyaging Co. Cross paddle (Red Cross) from Atelier88 Etsy Store
  4. Black and white cross quilt via crafty blossom
  5. Crosses Charcoal Quilt Cover via Aura Home
  6. Noemie Blanket in Oat via Country Road
  7. Cross bed cover via Aktuellt blog
  8. Burlap tote (hessian) sackcloth screen printed from Modern Manual Etsy Store
  9. Mint cross via BasicHus blog
  10. “Speaking of History VI 2008″ artwork by Ingo Kleinert | Boutwell Draper Gallery, Sydney
  11.  Red cross quilt via The Experimental Home blog
  12. Noemie Blanket in Charcoal via Country Road
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February 7, 2014 \ inspiration \ 6 comments

Working with :: style tiles

Lifestyle Fitness Training website style tile

I was introduced to Style Tiles a few months ago by a colleague. As it says on their website, they’re good when ‘a moodboard is too vague and a comp is too literal’. He was proposing their use as a way to cut down the time it takes to produce full designs, when sometimes in a design we just want to know things like; link colours and behaviour, body font style and colour, heading levels or submit button styling. This introduction coincided with a redesign project for a client and I decided to use a style tile for this project.

Since it was a redesign, my client was happy with this approach and not only because it saved her money. It saved me time because I didn’t mock up every template in her site design. I know I relied on her (quite a lot) to use her imagination and I had to explain how I would use some elements but I would say she didn’t at all struggle with the concept. She supplied the adjectives after I posed the question, if your business were a person how would you describe them? I put them in different fonts just to give them some personality and having them there was a great way to stay focused.

Lifestyle Fitness Training screen shot

This is the final site – Lifestyle Fitness Training - a personal training business here in Canberra.

My Eloise theme style tile

So based on my first experience with style tiles I thought I would employ this method for a new theme design. This is the style tile for my latest theme called Eloise that is for sale on my Etsy store and my Web shop. I think they work really well in this situation because there is no-one else that has to interpret the design. I normally do full page designs before cutting them up (coding) into a working theme, but this allowed me to create the look and feel and key visual elements without getting too entrenched in minor details. I kept the adjectives and imagined Eloise was a friend and these were ways I would describe her. Knowing her personality helped me refine the design. As is normal for me I often start a design with an image and use it to craft a palette and it all just flows from there.

A screen shot of my Eloise WordPress theme

And this is the final theme. I’m a little hooked on the process to be honest. Like many creatives, I have a lot of ideas buzzing around my head and this method just lets me get things out quickly.

Have you every used style tiles before?

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January 23, 2014 \ design \ 2 comments

Finding my feet

Feet with striped socks jumping over autumn leaves

Hi friends! I’m back… well sort of. I know you don’t expect me to explain my absence but I thought I would do this first post of the year to explain my silence of late.

I guess you could say I lost my direction, my North Star, my spark, my mojo – call it what you will. I let myself fall into a bit of a funk and it took quite of bit of internal dialogue to bring myself back again. Yes I’m back… well sort of.

I love my blog and blogging, I really do, but it had started to become a chore. Something else on my every expanding ‘to do’ list and I never want it to feel like that. I revisted old posts and saw how I grew in those first years and saw the essence of my intentions when I started blogging. I loved that time. I loved that excitement of sharing my projects, my interests and my challenges.

So this year I’m just going to go with it, blog when I feel I have something blog worthy to share. A remarkable thing happened on the way to this epiphany – I suddenly have a so many things I want to share with you. So I’ll be here at odd times, with no regular posts and just an intention (my word for the year) to check in at least once a week. We’ll see.

Yes I’m back… well sort of.

The photo titled I Love October is copyright to D. Sharon Pruitt and is released under Creative Commons Attribution License

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January 19, 2014 \ blogging \ 3 comments

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