Last Saturday’s Tea and Textiles

Last Saturday’s Tea and Textiles. Arya (kitten) helped teach Pat the basics of crochet — we got the chain stitch down, I think, and made good progress on single crochet, although why, oh why, is the first row also the hardest one to do? Seems unfair to beginners.

I added some stitches to my dress pockets that otherwise had a tendency to drop phones out of them; I should’ve chosen a darker blue thread, clearly, but I was too lazy to go back downstairs and hunt for it in the chaos that is my basement at the moment. Task for this week — straighten up the basement! But it’s okay; I doubt anyone will be peering too closely at the stitching on my pocketses…

I also managed to get the stitches back on the needles after some terrible person [cough, ANAND] pulled two needles out of them at some point, probably somewhat aimlessly while watching a tv show.

I knit another row, and was feeling quite proud of myself for finally picking up this project again after many months, until I looked at it more closely and realized that I definitely have a noticeable error about six rows back. Am I willing to tink it back that far in order to fix it? GAH. I think so, because this is my first time designing something, and I want it to be done right, but I may need more tea for fortitude before attempting it. (Also have tons of computer work to do this morning, and meetings, and annoying errands in the afternoon, so it’s not going to happen soon. Maybe this evening, though.)

(‘Tink’ is the word for un-knitting; it’s knit backwards, because knitters are cute that way. What’s less cute is that it’s just as much work as the actual knitting. Sigh.)

Next Tea and Textiles will be Sat July 7 link in comments!

(I think I’m remembering the names right — Jackie and Pat? I am so very terrible with names…)


Maram retreat

A little bit of a slow start, but we’re settled into the Maram writing / creativity / productivity retreat. It’s 10-3 today at house; do feel free to drop by, locals. (The next one is next Wed, the 26th). I’ve sent the kids to the park up the street to meet with friends; they are unsupervised, but Kavi has her cell and can call if they run into issues; she also has two other 12-year-old friends with her, so I think they should be fine. I am talking myself into this, because this is the first time I’ve let them do this unsupervised. They will be fine.

The plan is that around 11:30, Kevin will go and walk them up to the library (about a mile away, I think, and in theory, they could do that bit by themselves too, but I’d like them to practice it with a grown-up a few times first). I told him he could just drop them there for an hour, but he thinks he’ll probably just stay there and work. Then either he takes them to grab lunch out somewhere, or walks them back here, or I go pick them up and bring them here. Then they play (quietly) upstairs; the electronics go back on at 1 p.m., so they can do video games if they want.

And I keep writing, and around 1-2-ish, Teri, who is here, has promised to teach me how to do drop-spinning, so that will be cool. And at 3, the retreat ends, and I take the kids to the pool for a few hours. Probably Rehm, so that if they want to stay for a while, they can — Ridgeland closes at 4:15, but Rehm is open ’til 8.

It’s a little complex, combining writing and kid-minding and retreat-hosting, but I think we’re good. 🙂

Explaining Maram: Sharing the joy of making with the community

I’m trying to get better at explaining what Maram is. How is this?


I’d love to invite y’all to join the Maram Makerspace FB group / like our page / sign up for our newsletter. Maram is a new non-profit project, that hopes to share the joy of making with the community, lowering costs and making access to skills and tech more available to Oak Parkers and our neighbors.

We define making very broadly, though we’re particularly interested in areas such as futurist tech, traditional handcrafting skills, and sustainable making. We’ve offered workshops in 3D printing, coding, cooking, writing, textile arts and more! While most of our workshops are geared towards adults, some are open to kids, generally if accompanied by an adult.

We’re currently actively looking for a space, and hope to be in one by the fall, at which point we’ll also be offering memberships for those who want to use the space for co-working.

Expect to see a Kickstarter within the next few months, to help with start-up costs; we’ll also be accepting donations of tech and equipment / furniture, and are always looking for volunteers to work on the project with us. (We’re all volunteers!) Maram is sponsored by the SLF, a 501(c)3 non-profit, so all donations are tax-deductible.

We have a few Tea and Textiles meet-ups coming up, the next two Saturdays afternoons in June, and some writing / creativity / productivity retreats on weekdays.

You can sign up for those here:…

Please also save the date for our MakerFaire at the main library, an opportunity to drop in and try out some of our different activities: Sunday, August 25, 2-5, Veterans Room.

Learn more at our website:

Newsletter sign-up:

Facebook group:

Facebook page:

Sale sale sale!

BIG SALE! There’s just three days left to register for this weekend’s Maram workshops — mostly botanical-themed on Saturday, and mostly dad-themed on Sunday. A few of these are low enrollment, so if they don’t fill today, I’m afraid we’ll need to cancel those. So if you’re thinking of registering, don’t wait!

I’ll be teaching a workshop on botanical art (bookmarks / cards / poetry collages), and one on Sri Lankan cocktails and appetizers from my new cookbook!

We’re also offering:

– Alexa basic coding

– intro to 3D printing (make a personalized keychain!)

– wet-felted flowers

– botanical jewelry and soaps

– two writing workshops (personal essay and science fiction)

– and a building jam (that last is for dads and their kids, some freeform fun!)


We’re offering TWO BIG DISCOUNTS right now:

– 50% off a workshop if you take our 2-3 minute survey — we’re trying to figure out how to better promote and bring people out to our events, and could really use your help!

– Bring a friend — two for the price of one! Sign up two people for a workshop, and use the 50% discount code on both of them. This is a great way to try out our workshops and get a feel for what they’re like. Making is more fun with friends. 🙂


Here’s the survey:

Here’s the discount code: Maramdiscount

Buy tickets for this weekend here:…

(And as always, Maram is a non-profit, extending the joy of making throughout the community. We have additional discounts and full scholarships available; if cost is a barrier to entry, please let us know, and we’d love to offer you one of the additional discounts / scholarships.)

Reminder: Creativity/productivity retreat tomorrow

Reminder for locals — we’re doing Maram writing / creating / productivity retreat at my house tomorrow (Wed), 10-3. RSVP if you plan to attend, please!

Bring your laptops, notebooks, paints, anything quiet – headphones recommended.

There are four open work spaces on the first floor — two large tables, multiple couches and comfy chairs. There’s a writing shed in the backyard that you’re welcome to use (with a small heater), and a second floor library and home office (with a door that closes). $5 to cover coffee, tea, substantial snacks (and there’s always bread and peanut butter and jam for a sandwich too). You don’t need to be there before 10, but please enter quietly if arriving later.

Day in Our Village

Maram Makerspace attended a Day in Our Village in Scoville Park on June 2nd! We had a wonderful time meeting more people in the community and sharing all that Maram has to offer.

Photos below show Kurt Hedlund and Carollina Song, helping to set up the booth. The little tech bits that Kurt brought along were very helpful, though we have to figure out how to make the tech aspect more visible generally for this kind of thing. (We’re also in dire need of a banner for the back of the tent, obviously. As soon as we finalize our logo…)

We’re not allowed to have a gas generator on the grounds, and I just didn’t have time to really brainstorm & plan tech demo stuff that would be feasible in a 10×10 tent (while also showcasing our other activities). Hmm….

Carollina set up a shaving cream + dye print-making activity that was quite popular (also quite messy when there wasn’t a grown-up supervising, but so it goes….). Nice way to draw in older kids!

Some things have worked well at Maram’s Day in Our Village booth, some less well. I admit to being a little torn about my ‘building jam’ station — the Legos and MagnaTiles worked great as a way to draw in little kids, and then their parents were stuck, and some of them actually talked to us — so good?

But I’m afraid it overall gave the booth a vibe of ‘kid activity,’ and I’m not sure how to signal ‘we’re mostly for adults, though we also let kids come to some things if accompanied by an adult, though definitely not the making cocktails event on Father’s Day…’

Also, I completely forgot all the paper airplane instructions I laboriously printed out, and I only know how to make one paper airplane myself, so that’s the one that I made, and Kurt made one, but that was it — I think origami-type stuff isn’t right for this kind of space which is loud and chaotic and people are mostly moving on quickly from booth to booth, rather than settling down to craft for a while.

But we did have beautiful, professional-looking flyers, thanks to Janea Schimmel and Alec (and Canva), and I think the ‘What would you like us to teach you to make?’ was a good interactive thing, for encouraging people to vote on what workshops we might offer next.

Which reminds me, we need to finalize the July workshops and start publicizing those too. Eep. The good thing about not having done that yet, though, is that doing this event gave me more of a sense of what people are interested in.

Definitely graphic novels — I need to find someone to teach that, because I’m not competent. Writing fiction for tweens / teens; I’m probably going to do at least a workshop on that in July, though probably not a class; I think I’ve pulled back on my ambitions there, to make sure I have enough writing time.

Lots of people wanted cooking workshops, so we should work more with Cheryl at SugarBeet to make those happen jointly when possible. Lots of interest in personal essay writing. A few people were looking for ideas on what to do with their 3D printer, so I think maybe Kurt should just teach that class too.

A few last photos from Maram’s booth at Day in Our Village. I am envious of Pamela Penney’s drop spindle — well, mostly I want to learn how to use it. 🙂 We took a poll on what kind of classes people are most interested in — tech, writing, and cooking were high on the list, so we may focus on that for the July workshops, which we’re scheduling this week.

(While I’m here, I’ll remind you that June workshops are coming up soon…)

Father’s Day Weekend!

Father’s Day weekend, we’re teaching a host of workshops at the house — I’ll be teaching one on making botanical art (bookmarks, cards, poetry collages), and one on Sri Lankan cocktails (made with arrack, a coconut-flower liquor). There are LOTS of others, from writing to textile art to 3D printing and more. Those are generally $45, but everything is sliding scale and full scholarships are available; our main goal right now is to pay our teachers fairly for their time, but also to build up the Maram audience.
All info here:

Saturday June 15

10:00 am – 11:45 am Botanical Cards and Bookmarks with Mary Anne Mohanraj

12:00 pm – 1:45 pm Floral jewelry – Prismacolor on Metal with Alix Mikesell

2:00 pm – 3:45 pm Botanical Soap making with Cynthia Borah

2:00 pm – 3:45 pm Personal Essay Writing with Deborah Lee

4:00 pm – 5:45 pm    Wet Felted Flowers with Pamela Penny

Sunday June 16

10:00 am – 11:45 am 3D Printing with Kurt Hedlund

10:00 am – 11:45 am Writing Science Fiction that Sells with Alec Navarro Lee

12:00 pm – 1:45 pm Building Bridges with Heath Penney

2:00 pm – 3:45 pm Coding Alexa at Home with Kamal Jackson

4:00 pm – 5:45 pm    Sri Lankan Cocktails and Appetizers with Mary Anne Mohanraj

June Events!

Hey, folks — here’s the link with all our upcoming June tea+textile meet-ups (free!), plus productivity retreats ($5) and our Father’s Day workshops (a bit more, but remember that all our events are sliding scale)! Hope you can join us!

Registration now open for Father’s Day Workshops

Father’s Day Maram Makerspace Workshops — ticket sales open!

Make something for the father in your life or sign him up for a fun workshop! We’ve got a wide variety of great hands-on activities scheduled for Father’s Day Weekend.
(You don’t have to be a father to participate, though!)

Saturday June 15
10:00 am – 11:45 am Botanical Cards and Bookmarks
12:00 pm – 1:45 pm Floral jewelry – Prismacolor on Metal 
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm Botanical Soap making
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm Personal Essay Writing
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm Wet Felted Flowers

Sunday June 16
10:00 am – 11:45 am 3D Printing 
10:00 am – 11:45 am Writing Science Fiction that Sells
12:00 pm – 1:45 pm Building Bridges
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm Coding Alexa at Home
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm Sri Lankan Cocktails and Appetizers

COSTS: All tickets are $45 unless otherwise noted. Need-based scholarships are available; if interested, please request one by emailing with the subject line: MARAM SCHOLARSHIP.

Maram Makerspace was created with the goal of extending the joy of making throughout our community; generous donations make it possible for us to offer several scholarships for each session. Please don’t hesitate to apply for free or discounted workshops.




Botanical Cards and Bookmarks with Mary Anne Mohanraj

We’ll used pressed flowers from the garden to design and produce laminated bookmarks and delicate botanical greeting cards. Botanical materials will be provided, but feel free to bring your own as well – ferns, leaves, pansies, and other fairly flat botanicals work well for this. Press them in a book for a few weeks before the workshop so they’re nice and dry, or speed the process up with a microwave. Ages 8 and up (children must be accompanied by an adult. One ticket purchase per adult/child pair).

Flower Power – Prismacolor on Metal with Alix Mikesell

Colored pencils are an easy way to add color to metal. In this workshop, you will learn how to color on metal using Prismacolor pencils, how to blend, how to protect your creations for lasting use, and how to turn your colorful flower drawings into earrings or pendants. Materials are provided. Each participant will create at least one piece of jewelry. Ages 16 and up.

Botanical Soap making with Cynthia Borah

Learn how to make your own soap using the melt and pour process. Students will learn to use natural colorants, essential oils, and botanicals (calendula petals, lavender buds, etc.) to make unique bars of soap for themselves, for friends, or to give away as gifts. Melt and pour soap making is a creative and fun project for all. Ages 8 and up (children must be accompanied by an adult)

Personal Essay Writing with Deborah Jian Lee

This workshop will teach the fundamentals of how to find your voice, sharpen your ideas and tell your story through cinematic scenes that keep readers hooked. Geared toward adults.

Wet-felted Flower with Pamela Penney

This workshop offers an opportunity to create a small felted object: wool flower or vessel. Students will learn how to lay out the fibers, wet them down, then add some friction and fun. Through the magic that is actually called “fulling” the fibers will come together and be shaped into the desired object. Each student will go home with their finished object as it is drying in the final shape. Materials will be provided and include the wool roving for one item per student. Additional wool can be purchased from the instructor. Ages 7 & up (children must be accompanied by an adult).

Intro to 3D Printing with TinkerCad with Kurt Hedlund

Get an introduction to 3D printing by interactively learning to design a simple keyfob/keytag/luggagetag using the internet based Tinkercad tool. Follow along with the workshop leader designing your own key tag and create a design file to be 3D printed after the workshop. This class is appropriate for a beginner to 3D printing / design, who is generally computer literate. The class requires a laptop; if you don’t have one and would like to participate, let us know ( — some laptops may be available for loan during class. Ages 14 and up.

Writing Science Fiction that Sells with Alec Nevala-Lee

Science fiction offers a thriving audience for short stories, but it can be hard for beginners to break into professional markets, and even established writers can have trouble making consistent sales. We’ll discuss strategies for writing stories that are compelling from the very first page, based on the principles of effective characterization, plot structure, and worldbuilding, with examples drawn from a wide range of authors and publications. Geared towards adults.

Building Bridges – Heath Penney

Get ready to engineer your own structure to get from point A to point B-eyond! Lego, Wooden Blocks and a variety of creative materials will be provided to kids with their adult partner to explore the possibilities that come with creating an architectural span, whether your crossing an imaginary river or a deep ravine. Each pair (child and guardian) will embellish their construction with a fun variety of art materials and take it home at the end of the session. Ages 7 & up (children must be accompanied with an adult). One ticket purchase per adult/child pair.

Coding Alexa with Kamal Jackson

Create an ap for Alexa – no experience needed! We will create a simple game app for Alexa from start to finish, without writing a line of code. An Alexa account is required, and a laptop for class use. (If you don’t have access to a laptop, let us know – we have some available for loan-out during class.) Ages 8 & up can accompany a ticket-holding adult.

Sri Lankan Cocktails and Appetizers with Mary Anne Mohanraj

Learn how to make two different Sri Lankan cocktails using arrack, a bourbon-like liquor made from coconut flowers (recently become available at Whole Foods, Binny’s, etc.), along with two seafood-based appetizers (prawn vadai and mackerel cutlets). (Vegetarian versions can be made if you prefer.) Deep-frying is involved, so come prepared to deal with fire. Adults only. Learn more about Sri Lankan recipes and Mary Anne’s forthcoming cookbook at her cooking blog, Serendib Kitchen:

NOTE: Additional fee when you sign up: $10 (good alcohol isn’t cheap)