Off the ‘Gram

It’s been 133 days since New York went on pause, and this space has been dormant for most of that time. At first, I thought I would have loads of time to wake this blog back up: I’ll get to take shots outside, undisturbed! Then: Scratch that! I’ll find new ways to get creative in our apartment! Then: I HAVE NO TIME FOR THAT I HAVE TO MAKE TWO THOUSAND MASKS THEN I HAVE NO TIME FOR A WORLD THAT IS WAKING UP TO A VIRUS THAT HAS BEEN HERE SINCE FOREVER

Although my plans didn’t pan out, most of this has actually been documented in wee blurbs on the ‘gram, evolving into full-on micro blogging—something I’d rather do here. But people have been asking to listen and learn there, and social media is an undeniable tool for affecting the world. These past few weeks, I’ve eagerly—for lack of a better word— read the multiple paragraphs posted by so many of my friends, old and new. Sewists that already had me enamored of their clothing had me floored by their words relating their experiences and actions, much of which was very familiar, but kept private up until now.

I’ve been thinking about why we keep the things that hurt us private. Rob said to a friend of ours, who was surprised by my personal experiences with racism: she doesn’t tell you, because she doesn’t want to be defined by them.

He’s right. After sharing one story, I wanted to delete everything in my feed. I laid awake that night thinking it’s self centered, it’s old, there are so many present day stories that I should tell but how am I supposed to share those when that 25 year old story makes me want to crawl under a rock from having put it out there. Rob made me promise to sleep on it, and when I couldn’t sleep, this post appeared in my feed. And I was glad my words were up so that my new friend could put her words up. And I’m glad for every person out there sharing their words. And I know it’s an awful, naked thing to do. 

When you hear the experiences of a friend, a family member, or even a technicolor blogger, who can offer you a glimpse into the world through a different lens, I believe it can change your world view. Not THE worldview, a worldview. And if enough of us share that lens, well, it’s chipping away at the virus of racism.

While my own experiences with racism are deeply felt, while color plays a HUGE and every day part in my line of work, I feel that my problems are insignificant in comparison. But, they’re also important. Systemic racism is a huge part of the problem. Representation is a huge part of the problem. Sitting at a high end bar and being called a black b*tch is a huge part of the problem. Allowing it to go untold contributes to the virus, and to the unimaginable.

So hi. I’ll be coming back to this space more often. I may share some of the stories I’ve posted on Instagram these past weeks. I may share recent stories. We may have different opinions, I hope you’re open to hearing them, because I can’t navigate the world without sharing them anymore.

I know I can’t get through these days without joy, it’s why I taught myself to sew, so I will definitely, and defiantly, share the technicolor armor.

Wishing you the work that needs to be done, however and wherever you can do it, and the joy that you need to keep it up.


The Weekend That Was

We’d brought a minute of warm temperatures with us to St Paul, and at the end of a long and happy night of singing, I saw no need to change my favorite pair of show heels out for sneakers. Stepping out of the cab at the hotel, a melted pool of snow was the final straw for these little leopard kicks. As I slipped them off in the room, the wet leather simply...exhaled apart.

These babies, scored for seven bucks in one of my favorite Arkansas thrift shops, were with me for four years. They instantly became my favorite pair of dress heels. They went with everything, in my book. There wasn’t a fabric I could throw at them that didn’t work! Florals! Quilts! Kid’s artwork! I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve stood onstage in these shoes. Or on red carpets. Hell, they were immortalized in the pages of Vogue.com and the foot pedal on The Today Show.

But their swan song topped them all: a celebratory concert on the main floor of The Lexington, a gorgeous supper club filled with folks there in the name of good food, good music, and good life.

That night, even the upstairs of The Lex was jumping: as I painted my lips, revelers on the other side of the dressing room wall hollered to a live accordion (yes, an accordion) for a 50th anniversary. I tapped my bare feet to “Hey Jude” and sewed up the last few stitches on my pink plaid gown, as the party downstairs enjoyed a menu that, to Rob’s surprise, featured Rude Red in a fantastic array of dishes from the mind of Chef Jack (the man of the hour). Dress finished, I donned my trusty heels and switched gears—from the sounds of a one man band to a three man jazz trio—and we dove once again into Back to Bacharach. After a set of a dozen songs, the band and our loved ones were treated to an elegant midnight supper, our swank 1960s vibe in stark contrast to the table opposite us: bronco riders, fabulously decked out from cowboy boot to hat. I sipped on a glass of ‘14 Camus, courtesy of my new favorite sommelier, and tore happily through a ribeye the size of the Twin Cities, while my shoes played footsie with Rob.

The morning after, I gave my wounded heels a brief wistful glance as I slammed out of the hotel in sneakers, in search of coffee. The temperature had dropped considerably, and I noticed the streets were oddly vacant. Immediately, I adopted the New Yorker vibe: that Don't Mess With Me feel you slip into in a new and desolate city area. The streets were closed, police cars sprinkled here and there. Then shouting began. A gaggle of people threatening to make it physical at a bus stop. Armor up, walk on by. Another block. More shouting. For real? I thought. How is St Paul this mad this early? As the yells grew closer, words began to take shape: YOU. THAT’S RIGHT. YOU.


I passed a bemused cop near one of the sprinkled cars, then spied a few plodding runners moving weakly uphill. This was a marathon, clearly on its last and slowest competitors, and my yelling guy was there in some very frigid temps, the only onlooker still encouraging runners on the last two blocks of the race. I know this because one of his favorite shouts was YOU’VE ONLY GOT TWO MORE BLOCKS.

On the way back, armed with coffee, we caught each other’s appreciative eye, and yelled at each other: YOU ARE AWESOME.


And we both meant it.

That was the mantra of the weekend. Good god, everyone was AWESOME. It was 48 hours of celebrating awesome people! Our quartet of friends all had a chance to shine. Sarah, author and Golden Gloves winner, who, in a beautiful brick and mortar bookstore, taught us the Q train combination in preparation for a reading from her new novel Gravity. Ethan, whom I’m continually astonished to now find myself singing with, whose score to MMDG’s Pepperland had our shocked jaws on the floor. Rob, who was equally shocked to find a bottle of his baby, Rude Red, on every elegant table, and all over the wildly creative menu at The Lexington, a menu from the mind of Chef Jack: the person who was the spark for this marathon weekend of non-stop celebration of EVERYONE—which made perfect sense, him being the kind of guy that you instantly love for his love of EVERYTHING.

Chef Jack, a guy who is fighting a very bad diagnosis, who was celebrated that weekend by a community full of love, Jack, who is lucky to have the person meant for him running right by his side: Kathyrne. Lucky like Ethan, like Sarah, like Rob, like me.

So if the shoes had to go, their last gig was the best sendoff I could imagine for them. They had an excellent and jam packed race. I left them behind at the hotel, like runners shoes that have finally given out, but shoes that won. Of course I knew, no one would do anything more than toss them, there was really no third life for these thrifted shoes—but I felt like some of their good luck might rub off on the person who sent them on their way.

I wrote this post at the beginning of February, when it was cold and dreary but, you know, still fine to get on a plane, or go to a live concert (or even the public library). Reading back, I feel even more fortunate that we had that whirlwind weekend of PEOPLE. Most of whom were very aware of how precious this whole shebang is. We’ve got more concert dates lined up in early April, but, who knows? We’ll take it as it comes. I hope you’re staying safe and smart wherever you are. Whatever you’re doing, I’m over here yelling for you. YOU ARE AWESOME. Turns out most people are.


Re:Fashion ...from Quilt to Gown!

Re:Fashion ...from Quilt to Gown! | oonaballoona by Marcy Harriell

This right here is something I’ve been wanting to make for years now. A quilt dress. Mind you, I did NOT want to make the *actual* quilt. Though I do have roughly ten bags of wax print scraps stored up for a rainy day, this squirrel does not have the mindset (yet) for quilting.

Re:Fashion ...from Quilt to Gown! | oonaballoona by Marcy Harriell

But my mom likes to surprise me with all manner of technicolor goodness. And plants. Her thumb is green as the day is long. Sadly, the technicolor goodness has a much better chance of survival around these parts (watering is key, I’m finding out). However, I’d been wanting to hack into this Kantha quilt since it entered our domain. I couldn’t see cutting up such a beautiful gift from my mom, but then the perfect reason presented itself in Re:Fashion Season 2...

Re:Fashion ...from Quilt to Gown! | oonaballoona by Marcy Harriell

Said reason is revealed in the full episode on Bluprint, which you can, right this very hot minute, watch completely free! As in NO “free trial sign up,” NO “cc info needed,” just enter an email address and you can binge EVERYTHING on the site through January 7th.

Re:Fashion ...from Quilt to Gown! | oonaballoona by Marcy Harriell

I won’t say much more about this dress here, since you can get the whole story right now, even if you don’t subscribe to Bluprint. But I know we sewists love our static close-up shots, so I made sure to ask for some in our photo shoot!


Re:Fashion ...from Quilt to Gown! | oonaballoona | Rob and Marcy Harriell

HI HANDSOME! MATCHING ME LIKE IN MY DREAMS! He is actually down with this sort of thing now! Well, to a degree. I mean, he’d *rather* a subtle hint of a pocket square. He went big for me this time. But couldn’t you see him in a technicolor blazer? A brocade blazer? A BROCADE BLAZER WITH A SEQUIN BACK PANEL AND ME IN A MATCHING SEQUIN BALLGOWN?! CAN YOU IMAGINE?!!!!!

Maybe in season 3.....

For now, catch seasons 1, 2, and everything else these Handmade Harriells have on Bluprint for free through January 7th. Just search “Harriell” on site to pull up all our madness.  And remember —- everything else is bingeable as well; cooking, carpentry, oil painting, ballet, crochet...and yes, actual quilting ;).