September 30th, 2016

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September 30th, 2016

It’s been a quiet week on our hill top as I have been submerged in illustration work and the kids are fully back into the swing of school. After a bit of a bumpy start where we missed appointments (dental), forgot homework (Math, English), forgot dinner (just one night – I swear it!) and missed a meet-the-teacher evening at the elementary school (it’s okay, we met have them already), we have created highly complex and brightly coloured google calendars for every member of the family to make sure we have everyone going in all the right directions.  Huh! It seems like those organised people are actually onto something. Other highlights from this week (though it is hard to beat a good google calendar) include rescuing a woodpecker from our wood-stove, seeing a band in a barn, the seasonal return of the great horned owls hooting in the night, making incredible soup (see Delighting, below), and then all this good stuff on the internet…





Floors:  My favourite instagram account this week is all about floors, but they are Parisian floors, so it’s all romantic and beautiful. Thank you to SBL subscriber @emage for alerting me to this gorgeous account. Escapism and tiny tiles!




October has been re-dubbed “Inktober” around here. Last year I picked up my paintbrush, cracked open a small pot of black ink, joined a bunch of other keeners around the world, and set about to paint a small something in ink every single day of the month. What I discovered after 31 days was a) I can actually finish an online project and b) I love ink. Crazy love it. Who knew? This was a surprise to me, a girl who has spent most of the last 20 years attempting to make digital art look hand-drawn – for fear of doing the work by actual hand. No command-z (undo) when it comes to ink. Starting October 1, I will be back with the Inktober hashtag, fingers stained and curses flying with every micro-mistake.  Follow my progress via my instagram – and why not join me and all the other happy, inky people?





To brighten those dark moments: This is just what I need! Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa. My inner critic is such a big jerk, with a big, fat, loud voice, always up in my face being a jerky-jerk. It’s time to kick it to the curb. Danielle hosts one of my favourite weekly blog and podcast pitstops, The Jealous Curator. For years she has been directing her artistic envy into upbeat and thoughtful writings and interviews with diverse and interesting designers and artists. I have loved her other two books, Collage and Creative Block, and I am already loving this new one. It’s out in October.

“This book is duct tape for the mouth of every artist’s inner critic. In ten wise and encouraging chapters, Danielle Krysa offers readers ten truths to silence that jerky voice once and for all. Truths like: Everyone Is Creative; Excuses Are the Enemy; No One Can Wrestle the Pencil Out of Your Hand; Labels Are for Canned Peaches, Not People; Failure Leads to Genius; and more. ”

I see that Chronicle Books has a give-away (US residents only): The first 100 people to preorder the book, from any retailer, between now and October 10, will receive a mug with the cover illustration on it (so cute!). Follow the link here.



I’m planning on some more tree hugging: A friend recently sent me a piece of her writing about forests and trees and our relationships to both. It was such a good piece and I am hoping she puts it up somewhere soon where I can link to it. But at the bottom of the piece she included a link to this new documentary Intelligent Trees. I think it might be worth checking out. “Trees are so much more than rows of wood waiting  to be turned into furniture, buildings or firewood. They are more than organisms producing oxygen or cleaning the air for us. They are individual beings that have feelings, know friendship have a common language and look after each other. This documentary explores the various ways that trees communicate with each other – from a forester’s observations as well as through the microscope of a scientist.” What the what? Watch out, the Ent-filled Fangorn Forest might not just be a Tolkien thing of literature. Go hug some of those trees! (I really hope there is some truth in all of this, and this is not just like the epic paper I gave in first year Archaeology concerning the existence of Atlantis, based on a book by a complete quack. I had no idea!).




This week I am off to New York in my imaginary travel journal: I was chatting to a friend during the week about this incredible exhibition, Crochet Coral Reef: TOXIC SEAS (above), by Margaret and Christine Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring, on now at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. I was extremely excited to drop the words “hyperbolic geometry” into the conversation as she is a knitter but also a math teacher. We decided that a field trip was in order. She also wants to take in the Museum of Math and I thought finally seeing Matilda on Broadway would be great. (but ugh! Final performance on the 1st of January!).

My favourite author in the world (favourite because she is brilliant and also because I happen to illustrate some of her books), Jen Storer, just posted her first newsletter and linked to this wonderful video by the fabulous artist and illustrator Maira Kalman. It just makes me want to go to New York even more. Even if you aren’t particularly interested in New York, watch that video, because it is quite wonderful.



Sweater Weather: London-based designer Donna Wilson always creates the quirkiest of goods, whether it’s textiles, stuffies, clothing or ceramics. This week, due to my need for sweaters generally, I am coveting her beautiful new knit range inspired by Iceland and Scotland. Also, added bonus: Sweater Weather. 



1) Bon Iver’s 22, A MillionI have been loving all the tracks released so far and am pretty excited about today’s album release.

2) Guffawing at podcasts: My brother highly recommended the podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno and now I am recommending it to you. When a young guy discovers a piece of pretty terrible erotic fiction written and self-published by his dad, and then reads and critiques it with a group of friends, it’s pretty enjoyable listening.

3) Hey, this looks good: 20th Century Women, I don’t know anything about it but I like that trailer. Set in 1979 – Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning all star in a new film by Mike Mills. I really liked his film Beginners.

4) Soup season: This! One hundred times this… River Cottage’s Curried Sweet Potato Soup. I made it with this stock which really makes the house smell incredibly good.

5) Happiness. It’s as easy as this, apparently:  Ancient Wisdom Reveals 6 Rituals That Will Make You Happy. So yeah, just do that.


If you ever have anything you’d love to share with me that I might like to include in this newsletter, don’t hesitate to drop me a line! I have been getting a few suggestions and I love seeing what inspires you.

I’ll be back next week with October business. Thanks again for the juicy feedback and be sure to whisper the words The Small Batch List in your friends’ ears.

Over and out,

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
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