Meet me at Chicago Zinefest

It’s here! Chicago Zinefest is here! And you know what? Craft Leftovers Volume 5, Issue 1 will be here too! I’ll be putting it up for sale in my etsy shop when I get back from the zinefest and I’ll do an official zine summary post then to show you some sneak peeks and the table of contents.

Exhibition Day will be held on Saturday, May 18 from 11:00am  – 6:00pm at Plumbers Union Hall (1340 W Washington Blvd) in the West Loop. You can find me in the kid friendly zone at table K6. All events during CZF weekend are always FREE and open to the public.

I’m bring a huge backcatalog of zines – both from Craft Leftovers and Little Woods. While I’ll be selling everything, of course, I’m also 100% open to trade. Bring a zine to swap with me! I love adding new authors and artists to my collection.

To learn all about the THREE days, visit the Chicago Zinefest website.

See you in Chicago!

Kristin M Roach

Morning Sketch Book

Lucy is on the cusp of starting her first year of school. So. I did something different. Even though we pay for childcare so I can work 9-5 at the shop Monday – Friday, I opted to leave work early or go in late and grab her out of day care and go have adventures. We’ve caught toads, played in the garden, gone on walks, crafted, drawn, done makeup, shopping, painting, played video games like just dance and mario cart. It’s been fun.

And I know this isn’t the way you expected a post about sketch books to go… but here we are.

A surprising thing happened. I started getting up early, going outside, and drawing. Because we weren’t in a rush. I was just enjoying time at home. After the first time it happened, I became a bit greedy for it.

Lucy and I started having these casual drawing mornings even on days I had to be to work right at 8:30. Sometimes she draws with me.

Sometimes she doesn’t and wants to color in coloring books inside while watching cartoons before school time.

It’s been bliss either way. I’ve begun identifying all the plants in my backyard. And after the last two year’s neglect, there are many interesting volunteers.

Before this year for instance I’ve never see Joe Pye Weed growing — which grows over 6 feet tall.

And while it’s existed in the yard since we moved in, I never knew it was named buckthorn.

Sometimes it’s just 10 minutes. Others it’s hours. I’ve found sitting in the backyard among my plant friends, sipping a hot brew, focusing my attention on a single mark at a time has been more beneficial to my mental health than any supplement or practice I’ve attempted.

This past week, I went even further, packed a sack lunch, rode my bike to the woods, and drew plants and painted in water colors. Something I used to do when I was younger. I feel like I’m reconnecting with my inner person.

This has become such a calming de-stressing practice for me that I’m a little concerned for the winter months. I’m starting to nest a cozy spot with bird feeders outside the window so I can snuggle up with a brew and draw the birds as a winter past time.

For those of you who use outdoor time as sanity time, what do you do during the winter months in the north when it’s too cold to go play outside?

Until Next Time

Siding the House: Part 1

I say part 1, but it’s more like “years one, two, and three”. It’s been a long time in progress. And I have a long way to go, though I’m technically about 2/3 done. Potentially, all my creative energy (and time) outside of the shop and family things has funneled into this project.

It started in October 2015. Little did we know when we decided to side the house ourselves that we would, just two months later, opt to speed up our 5 year Little Woods plan to a 4 month period. We signed a lease and started the reno on our shop. So the siding took a back seat.

In 2015 we did tear off one side of the house, and found lots of dry rot and that kind of thing. After fixing it, I wrapped it up for the winter and did some reconstructive woodworking – which felt more like bondo-ing a car than woodworking.

2015-10-10 16.55.39

In 2016 our kind friends helped us get the siding on that side done.


In 2017 I tore off another side and house wrapped it. As well as repaired the cracked window panes, glazed them, and replaced the window frames and reconstructed the window sill – dry rot. Oh and rotted studs had to be cut out and replaced. Let me just say. I never like seeing the inside of my house from the outside unless it’s through a window.

I also painted the porch and the other side of the house we sided in 2016. Doesn’t look too bad. Well except the gables. On this side it is in pretty okay shape so it has to wait until I’m ready to do all the gables… as in I need to figure out if I want replace or repair the siding and whether to keep it vertical or do shingles as an accent.

And here we are. Today I did a final coat of paint on the porch and painted the inner door blue. A couple weeks ago I replaced our storm door and just this week picked up the new storm windows we had made. Oh and last fall I glazed all the inner windows on the porch. What a huge difference that made with our heating bill!

A funny thing about the paint. When I painted the back of the house, the north side, it was flat. I’ve used flat paint before, but this was really chalky looking. Within a month it was super drab.  I tried to wash it, but a spray down with the hose was not doing it. I still had one more final coat of paint so the paint store guy recommended eggshell. Which now looks super shiny. Weird. But it washes off really easily. And I’m 2/3 done and it takes 4 coats to go from white to plum. Just sayin’. I’m way too far in to turn back to flat now.

I know it seems like a lot and over a long duration, 3 summers now, but I enjoy the work and I get a pretty big boost of satisfaction when I finish a certain section. Or reconstruct a window frame. Or paint a door. Or replace a whole stud by sawing into the side of the house. Who doesn’t feel badass after doing that for the first time and having it actually work out okay and not collapse the house.


Until next time….

promise there will be some craft talk 🙂

Kristin M Roach


Studio clean out

It always gets worse before it gets better.

I’ve been listening to this book called Decluttering at the Speed of Life and have been… well decluttering. Big time.

Talking 3 pickup truck loads to the goodwill from the kitchen, master bedroom, spare bedroom, and living room.

It’s not been a very creative period but I feel like it’s a big step towards making space for creativity.

The author warns against jumping into the hard areas and instead advocates the easy stuff. Like the kitchen. And even more basic, start with the easy stuff like trash and things that belong elsewhere — like out of your kitchen or out of your life even.

After doing this for about 3 months now — and I still have a long way to go with the above locales in my home — today I took my first dip into my studio.

I was down here painting about a month ago and it didn’t seem that bad. But I think even since then my clutter vision has changed. And I added one more thing. A tilt drawing table — something I’ve always wanted and it was free and it’s sturdy and I couldn’t say no. But now I’m faced with how to make it fit. And. Well. I can’t.

Something has to go.

Here is where all my decluttering comes into play. So back to step one. The easy stuff. Trash. Then things that don’t belong.

And maybe not the first step, but a needed step, removing fixtures that don’t need to be in here.

It’s just too much stuff. Not even the little clutter tucked all over the place. It’s the furniture. To keep, to move to another room, to donate.

Maybe I’ll just go back to the easy stuff and start with taking out the trash and doing my dishes.

Until next time,

Kristin M Roach

Craft Leftovers Homecoming

This is me at our tea shop, Little Woods, enjoying a nitro tea during Book Club. 

More than a decade ago… whoa. I started a blog called Craft Leftovers to fill a need in my life. I needed some outside accountability in busting my stash. I had my own pile of yarn and fabric as well as all the craft supplies I inherited from my grandma. Over the next several years my hobby blog grew into a full blown career as a pattern writer. It culminated in 2011 when I wrote a book for one of my favorite publishers – Storey Publishing – called Mend it Better!

Life is full of twists and turns and within a year of writing Mend it Better, I was hired as a curator at an Art Center and gave birth to our daughter Lucy. It set me on the path that lead to retiring from the art center and opening a tea shop with my husband! Whoa again.

I had always intended to write more blog posts about crafting, diy projects, cooking, and herbalism. I even took pictures and wrote the posts that just never quite made it to the internet.  But right when I was ready to push that “publish” button… we got hacked. In a huge way! Literally corrupted all my data. I became pretty demoralized and the work involved to get it back off the ground was daunting and more than I could face while getting the shop off the ground and taking care of a toddler. So I put it off… until now. While we might be able to restore some of the archive eventually, I’ve decided to breath new life into Craft Leftovers and start anew.

I’m facing down that original spark that inspired my first blog post ten years ago. I need some accountability. But this time, it’s not just using up my stash. It’s doing something creative every week for me, for my daughter, and our home using what’s on hand.

Just typing this up has me fired up to craft, clean, and play with some fabric with Lucy – she’s been asking for some sewing lessons again!

Until next time!
Kristin M Roach