Karen Walrond So Sews (and I won a dollar)

When I sat next to Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks.com at the BlogHer Handmade/Creative Connection lunch today I had no idea it would lead to a crafty showdown in the hotel lobby!

Karen is an amazingly talented, gracious and joyful photographer who wrote (and photographed) the book The Beauty of Different.

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(Photo from Karen’s Website)

During lunch, each table was told we could split up our centerpiece consisting of GORGEOUS fabric by Kaari Meng of French General (provided by Moda). And because I just can’t seem to help myself sometimes, I brought out the purse I made last night from the fabric swag given at dinner the night before.

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Karen, the generous person that she is, made such a big deal over it, making me feel awesome and generally like a rock star. Karen’s craft is photography and as her gorgeous book attests, she is a master at her craft. But she claimed that she didn’t sew and “could never” do anything like make a purse in an evening.

Karen poured over the purse, oohing and ahhing at my small but (to me) sloppy stitches. She seemed so genuinely thrilled at the fact that I had made this little floppy clutch in my hotel room. “You keep it.” I offered.

“Oh no! I couldn’t do that.” she replied.

I looked at the beautiful fabric “swag” sitting in a neat pile in front of her, waiting to go home to her daughter, and thought about the embroidery needle and thread in my bag. “Well, you’ll just have to make one yourself then.”

“Oh, yeah right.” she said.

Having just made the purse not 15 hours previously, I was 95% sure I could get even a true novice through the project in 30 minutes, even without a sewing machine. “I bet I could walk you through it between lunch and the next session.” I said with a touch of playful challenge in my voice. I had a hunch Karen was the sort of lady who would rise to a challenge.

“Are you serious? I will take that bet.” We agreed to a 45-minute, $1-stake challenge, and as soon as the (excellent) Blogher keynote speakers were done, we rushed to the couches in the lobby to begin.

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Karen, was a natch’. She already knew how to tie starting and ending knots. She even identified a running stitch and whip stitch by name when I demonstrated them for her.

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As she, Mom and I all sat together in the lobby and she worked on her project we chatted about her grandmother who had been a seamstress and who taught Karen the basics of sewing. We talked about her hopes of helping her daughter learn to sew, about all the benefits that come from learning handwork at a young age, and about our shared hope that we will be able to have a close friendship with our daughters when they grow into independent adults. Karen even shared her “bucket list” wish of sewing something that she would wear in public.

After 20 enjoyable minutes of chatting and sewing (luckily I had 2 needles so I was able to embroider a bit as well) she had finished – well within the 45-minute limit. I made a sloppy bow out of a complimentary fabric and Karen stitched it on.

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(photo from Karen’s Twitter Feed)

The good sport that she is, Karen happily admitted she had lost the bet and gave me and my mother a dollar each.

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I told her I was going to use it as a bookmark in her book, which she was sweet enough to sign for me later that evening:

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(It reads:

To Katie –

Your kindness and super generosity are your super powers.

And they’re BEAUTIFUL.

Karen Walrond

P.S. Thank you for teaching me to sew!)

Thanks for the crafternoon, Karen. You made this a truly beautiful day during an already inspiring weekend. I hope our paths cross again soon!

(And if you want to learn how to make a purse like Karen’s check out my previous post “FREE 10-Minute Purse Pattern“.)

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5 thoughts on “Karen Walrond So Sews (and I won a dollar)

  1. That’s an awesome story, I’m not in the least surprised that you were able to inspire the project and ‘force’ her through it so quickly! Plus, both of those purses came out awesome!

  2. Yes . . . you were pretty much my HERO after seeing what you made! And the fact that you were able to teach Karen . . . SO COOOOL!!!!

    I had such a wonderful time sitting with you (laughing so hard over the egg mcmuffin sandwich) and soaking in all the creative energy from the whole TCC group. Hope our paths will cross again some day! 😉

    1. Leanne, I was just thinking about you today! So great meeting you there too! You should send the Cricket people that photo I emailed you from my phone and get a shout out for your blog on their blog! Cross promotion yo!

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