December 13, 2014

Malden Mills Polartec and Cat Hats

In this cat hat you can just barely
 make out the "medium" on the brim.
When Malden Mills opened a retail store, next to their mill in Lawrence, Mass., I spent many afternoons pawing through their sample bins and buying yards of fleece. 
Much to my disappointment, the retail store closed several years ago. Still, after sewing (and selling) 100's of hats, mittens, and stuffed animals, I have bins of this amazing Polartec fleece on hand. 
Quality matters. The fleece sold in big-box/chain fabric stores pales in comparison. Malden Mills Polartec does not pill. It's made locally and with a percentage of recycled, post-consumer plastic bottles.  After many washings  (and air drying) the fabric looks like new. No Kidding.
Sometimes the retail store's bins would have experimental fabrics or the end runs of bolts intended for companies like Patagonia. I scored several yards of this fleece in a bunch of different colors. How did I know it was for Patagonia? The name is in the fleece. So when you see this pattern in one of my hats, that’s the story...

A 3M reflective ink was printed on this fabric. 
I used it for the ears' backs...for safety.

For more accessories created with 
Malden Mills Polartec Fabrics 
please visit my  Esy Shop, Trail Pixie Studios.

November 16, 2014

Creative Problem Solving: Reversible Hat

Yesterday I put down my school grading and set to resolve a creative conundrum that I'd been thinking through. Because thinking alone was not leading to results, I started to create some tactile solutions out of fabric.
The question at hand:
How do I make a reversible hat—
in as few steps as possible?

The process took about an hour and roughly two large hats (one you see here) and four little doll-size caps. When I thought I had it, I zipped confidently to my machine to sew, when I turned the hat right-side-out . . . nope, nope again, drat. It was time to reflect on my process. I needed to slow down and pay attention to the incremental stages because to reverse one or two of them meant the hat would not be correct. 

Figuring out how to make this hat, without a pattern, took some trial and error, allowed for ideas about possible innovations, and was fun. My brain felt good making various iterations—and the hat fits comfortably!

I've sewn (hats) since high school, mostly with Malden Mills fleece. Now that I have all these fun spandex prints, I am branching out and plan on combining the two materials.
 New fabrics in my stash:

October 19, 2014

Marathon Training at the TARC Fall Classic

This fall I'm experimenting with re-entry into running; it must be a slow and careful process considering my hip health, which from now on will be an important factor. My seventh (?) Stone Cat Marathon is in early November and I've been building up my long runs cautiously.
A few weeks ago I tested my fitness at the Harwich Cranberry Harvest Half Marathon, which was a rolling course on roads. I ran better than I expected, power-wogging, to average a 10:54 pace per mile. In the past, my 13.1 mile road finishes were under two-hours. Times are different; A major, side-lining, hip injury like FAI (look it up) will change one's pace and perspective. Today I am happy to gambol through the woods at any speed.
Taking training precautions —so my November trail marathon isn't a complete "slog fest"— I devised a long run of 18+ miles for this weekend. In doing so, I signed up for the TARC half-marathon (in Great Brook Farm, Carlisle, MA) and planned on completing the race before heading back out for an additional loop of 6.2 miles or more. During the half I was mindful of my objectives and did not run too hard in the final quarter. (2:46 finish.)
I felt good at seven miles (when I usually wish to call it a day) and still solid at 13 miles. What a relief. In contrast, last weekend's long run in Ward Reservation (Andover, MA) was difficult on my hips, lower back and confidence. I ran alone (which I usually love), got intentionally lost (as a way of adding more miles), and negotiated with an upset stomach (due to a waist pack).
Yesterday was refreshingly wonderful— I found myself in the zone a few times, not poo-pooing myself, and ready to go out for a third loop. With the company of Julie O and Michelle R, 13-19 miles was a treat.  We caught up on life;  I felt nostalgic, grateful, and ooby. We rolled into the Start/Finish area and Julie and Michelle were in the 50k so they scampered off for another lap. I ran out to find Peter, who was in the marathon, and as I left the abundant aid station, I spied him along the large field. What great timing. Running a section of his final lap with him was a gift. He was strong and positive; I wish I could have accompanied him on the whole loop but I was at my training goal distance and didn't want to test my luck. 
In the end I tallied 22 miles without feeling like ripe horse manure. If I play it smart these next three weeks, I can head into Stone Cat healthy and with my training homework complete.

A big thank you to the TARC community! The RD's (Josh and Jerimy),  an army of volunteers,  Norm S with his timing system, and all who make the day run smoothly. Thank you, too, for that guacamole.

October 16, 2014

New work in the Museum Shop at the Addison Gallery of American Art

Located on the campus of Phillips Academy is the Addison Gallery of American Art. They have a small and sweet museum store that carries select Trail Pixie Studios accessories.
Please stop by if you are in the area!
Addison Gallery of American Art
180 Main Street,
Andover, MA 
(978) 749-4015

October 15, 2014

St. Pat's 24 Hour Race

some of my latest ear warmers
My friend Jeanne P. is a Co-Race Director for the St. Pat's 24 Hour Race in South Bend, Indiana. When she asked if I would donate some ear warmers I was delighted to contribute! I wish I could participate in the race as it sounds like a very special and well-organized event!

For details about the race visit 
or visit Ultra Signup.

August 14, 2014


I spent this morning in my plot at the Abbot Phillips Community Garden. With the end of summer near, I a decided to plant a few rows each of beets, turnips, and kale.  I felt sore about evicting a few bees from what was left of my zucchini crop.  Luckily, they have plenty of other plants in which to play and pollinate.
 Waiting for a taste
New crop: beets, turnips, and dwarf blue kale.

One of my goals this summer was to learn how to make jam— check. 
A bee visiting my berries!

I gathered enough blueberries for a batch and picked up a box of Pomona's Universal Pectin at Whole Foods; I was ready to rock and roll.

 Yum! cannot wait to try some!!
 A straight forward and clear video on making Low-Sugar Blueberry Jam by The Crafty Gemini can be found at ( and below. 

Note: I was short on jam mixture for a full four (half-pint) jars, as the recipe estimates; I had enough for 3.5, 8 oz/half-pint jars. Having a sterilized 4 oz jar ready is a good idea. Also, I sterilized my jars and lids for longer than the video recommended (30 minutes at a simmer).

August 05, 2014

New Kayak Seat Cover from Scratch

I recently bought a used 14' Corona Perception kayak from a friend (Thanks Bob!)  It's a nice rig but needed a seat-cover upgrade, especially as I plan on enjoying some longer paddling excursions this month!

Today I mined my bins of Malden Mills Polartec fabrics for some Neoprene. Unfortunately, all I found was small swatch of hot pink. Ordinarily I would be thrilled with this color but the reds, oranges and yellows in the kayak would clash with it too dramatically —even for me. 

Instead, I settled on some black technical, Neoprene-like, fleece and added an internal layer of  300-weight fleece for cushioning on the side against my back. Working off the original seat cover as a pattern —*before it disintigrates further— I fashioned a new cover, and used my cover-stitch machine and serger to reinforce seams.
(*photo is of the original seat cover, turned inside out)

The fit is nice and snug.  After creating tiny holes for the internal seat gadgets and hooks to pop through, I installed it back into the kayak and adjusted the cords.
The cover fits well in the front but pulls a back a bit (see photo) where the clips latch down. Still, it doesn't effect the performance. In fact the back attaches so securely to the seat, I had trouble unhooking it!

I vacuumed all the internal spaces of sand, cobwebs and possible spiders !
Now the cockpit cover is in place along with the hatches to make sure no creepy crawlies get in!

Online I found some 3mm leopard print Neoprene, which could work if I get frisky for an alternative cover choice....that isn't hot pink.

Daisies to Hawaii

 Tomorrow morning I'll ship out 
a custom pair of  "Daisy" print 
Gators-Bait Gaiters to Hawaii. 

This is the farthest US state 
to which I have mailed gaiters!
Reflective ribbon sewn at 
the front ankle and laces clip area. 
The sneaker laces clips are easy-to-latch, 
even after hours of running
 when fingers aren't as nimble.

July 23, 2014

Jazz Painting

 Emily Trespas
Unsquare Dance: Ode to Brubeck, 
oil on canvas, 15 x 30 inches, 2013

Titling art is a favorite part of my creative process. Frequently I just know the title, other times I welcome research. Usually something in the work tips me off; it might be a shape, a color, a distant cousin to the original inspiration or a direct descendant.
Emily Trespas
Sweet Rain: Ode to Getz
acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14 inches, 2013
The titles for these paintings emerged from jazz. The loops repeat and intertwine like steps in a dance—notes in a song, clapping hands, the samba, bossa nova. Or blue dusk and the floating just before sleep. Song as painting. Nothing new but the dial tunes to Brubeck and Gezt without pause. 

Listening to "Sweet Rain," I found an informative post, Unsquare Dance, on Monk Rowe's blog. He is the Jazz Archives Director at Hamilton College.

Including the above paintings, I have eight paintings on display in a local exhibit at Phillips Academy through July 30th.

Summer Session Faculty Art Exhibit  
Reception: Friday, July 25th,  6 to 7:30 pm

Gelb Exhibition Gallery

George Washington Hall
5 Chapel Avenue

Phillips Academy, Andover, MA

July 22, 2014


Emily Trespas  | in-progress proof print 
 "Gather"  |  July 2014

This July I am teaching Visual Studies to a group of rising Phillips Academy ninth graders. Last week we worked on relief prints. 

The students who finished their two required (portrait and place) plates could earn extra credit by creating another portrait .... but without the aid of Photoshop filters. In other words, they had to carve the translation from a color image directly into black and white shapes and textures on the relief block. 

A few students took to this challenge:  find a person/character from a magazine or art history book and create a new scene.

My example (above) was borrowed from Matisse's painting, "Nymph and Satyr." The open-ended possibilities of this reaching figure appealed to me; he could be reaching for something other than what the artist intended.

Part of this prompt involved the concept of "how artists may find inspiration." I explained to them my process.  The week before this project, I re-read Shirley Jackson's short story, The Lottery. The final line of the story is unforgettable: "And then they were upon her." 

When I saw this Satyr reaching for the Nymph, I thought of the young boy in Jackson's story who excitedly gathered his pile of stones. That the man in my print remains nude adds to a pure, vulnerable and animalistic presence.

Henri Matisse |  "Nymph and Satyr"  |  oil on canvas  | 1909

June 05, 2014


Berry Bowl
Stoneware Strainer—Ceramic Colander

One of my better pieces from the latest firing.