A Little Travel, a Little Art

We recently took a little trip to Michigan, a state I've never explored before and it was beautiful. From the amazing turquoise waters of Lake Michigan (I thought you had to go to the Caribbean to see such lovely water) to the fruit trees, lavender farms (we hit two of them) art and food.

A day spent on the beach relaxing was capped off with a visit to one of the many wineries. We sipped some wine at Mari Vineyards while overlooking the lake.

A visit to the Dennos Art Museum was the perfect thing for a dreary day. A wonderful show by Gerhart Knodel was on display. It is always a nice surprise when I happen upon a show by a well known textile artist. I was intrigued with his work because it was inspired by pieces of a Chinese textile that had been cut into pieces and he played a version of a surrealist game Exquisite Corpse, to extend and explore the images on the textile. You can watch a very interesting 22 minute video of him talking about his work here.

I always feel excited when fall starts and now that I'm back from vacation I've started teaching one of my favorite classes at the Textile Center of Minnesota, Interlace Embroidery. It's an eight week class and we all get to learn a lot of embroidery stitches, techniques and get to know each other. I even get to see finished works by the students, something that never happens in short form classes. I hope you are all having a wonderful beginning of autumn.

I'll leave you with a fierce little transformer floating his way around Lake Michigan and a beautiful wall of drying lavender.


Aaaaaand, I’m Back...

Seacoast at Rye NH
I find that I often begin a blog post with the phrase, "Well, it's been awhile..." or something like that. It has and it's been a needed break but I have been thinking about why I blog, why I have changed the focus of my blog and do I want to continue. First off, I really like my blog and haven't been able to bring myself to take it down. There's a lot of good stuff on here, at least I think so, and I often refer back to it to find a recipe or post that I put up awhile back.

I think I got sidetracked with blogging because there seemed to be a lot of pressure to be the best kid on the block - ads, metrics, followers, blah, blah, blah. It was so daunting that I gave up. I also got exhausted thinking about recording every aspect of my life that seemed blog worthy. Sometimes I just wanted to admire a sunset, or enjoy the flavor of some food I made, or look at art without recording every aspect of it. And then somewhere I read that blogs should be focused so I turned it into a blog with only textiles and embroidery. Oy vey!

A few months ago Austin Kleon posted a link in his newsletter to an article by Marc Weidenbaum called Bring Out Your Blogs and it got me thinking more and more about getting back to blogging. Here's the thing though, I want to blog my way, the way I began. So, you will find some food and recipes, certainly some textiles, especially embroidery, the daily happenings of my life that I think are fun to share and it will be all mixed up. I hope you will find it inspirational and follow along and comment once awhile. That would be fabulous but if you don't, that's ok too.

What you wont find here are a bunch of pop up ads that prevent you from seeing the content...one of my pet peeves that prevent me, frequently, from reading a blog post that sounds interesting. I know that if this isn't fun for me, it won't be fun for you. So, here's to starting again, my way.

FYI, the photo is of the seacoast at the Seacoast Science Center at Rye New Hampshire and the site of my nieces wedding last weekend. A beautiful place and an equally beautiful wedding.


French Knots!!!

French Knots are one of my favorite embroidery stitches. I love the texture and the many ways they can be used and it is a rare piece that I don't find a way to add them in.

I usually use embroidery floss and French Knots can be made with anywhere from one to all six strands of floss. The number of strands used will help determine how large the knots are. Another factor is how many times the thread is wrapped around the needle. One of the most helpful things I have done is make a grid of French Knots using from 1 to 6 strands of floss and one to four wraps. This little grid is helpful when deciding what size knot I want to fill in an area or create a round counter point. You might consider making one for yourself to keep as a handy reference. I can't tell you how often I use it - but a lot! Here is what it looks like.

Here are some of my favorite ways to use French Knots.

To fill in areas like the sheep and treetops.

To fill in for texture in a background or border.

To enhance other stitches and create the center of flowers.

Another example of adding them to a set of stitches.

If you have not tried French Knots, they can be a little tricky but here is an excellent video as well as some stitching tips from the fabulous Mary Corbet of needlenthread.com.  

I thought I'd end with bright pink French Knots exploding out the ends of this flower. Happy knotting! 


Wearable Stitches

So many things have been happening lately that I feel like I've been in a whirlwind of stitching to finish up art work, create samples and design handouts for classes and attempt to cook dinner once in awhile. I've been better at the first two, that's for sure!

If you've been following along you know I was involved in Artists in the Kitchen, a collaboration between women artists and women chefs/restauranteurs/influencers. You can read my blog post about it here. The Minneapolis Star Tribune had a great article about the exhibit that you can read here.

Since embroidery is all over the runway and in the stores it seemed like a perfect time for developing a class on embroidered clothing, so Wearable Stitches was born. It was fun to test out different methods of transferring images onto clothes, figuring out the best way to design around buttons, seams and body curves and stitches that are most appropriate. This experimentation resulted in some very fun samples and a class that everyone seemed to enjoy.

My personal favorites are the peek-a-boo animal that looks out the front of a child's shirt and some shoes with simple stitches. My husband likes to draw cute little animals so I set him the task of designing this for me. It turned out so well I'd like him to do a series that I can put in my etsy shop.  Fingers crossed!

The shoes sometimes had to be stitched using a thimble and pliers to pull the needle through tough spots but I think it was well worth a few needle sticks to make them. My favorite part is the little sprig of flowers on the side. These shoes are ready for some summer fun!

If you are interested in any of my classes for your organization or group send me a message using the contact into on the side bar!


Artists In The Kitchen

Maryland Crab Feast
There has been a lot of fun stitching happening around here! I was invited to participate in a collaboration between women chefs/restauranteurs/influencers and women artists and it has been great fun. I was paired up with Golnaz Yamoutpour, the woman behind EatDrinkDishMpls , an Instagram account that focuses on great taste treats in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. One of the things she told me when we met was her focus on food came about not only because her family had been in the restaurant business but because she thought of food as travel, which she couldn't afford to do at the time. This sparked my imagination because I love to try new cuisines. Flavors can take you both to places you have never been and back to memories of times and places you've experienced. I made 9 images some from the foods and experiences Golnaz told me about, some were my food memories and some were iconic food images.
Sub Sandwich

I decided to work in a grid, which is the way images on Instagram are laid out. I knew if I worked large I'd never get done so each image is approximately 1 3/4" square. You can see all nine of my embroideries on my Instagram account here. If you are in Minneapolis between March 21 and May 19, 2018 stop by Textile Center of Minnesota and see the work of all 50 artists.
Waffles with Berries and Whipped Cream


Hello Again!

Like many artists I have found myself in the past year or so posting more on my Threads of Inspiration Facebook page than on this blog. I am not very happy with that platform for many reasons I won't go into and so, I'm getting back to blogging. I will continue to put links to my blog posts on Facebook so if that is your place to find me, I'll still be there. 

Now for the updates. Wow! I've had so much going on and so many exciting things coming up! Here are just a few. I continue to teach at Textile Center of MN and expand the classes including Wearable Stitches on March 24. We'll add some stitched embellishment to clothing, accessories and even shoes!! I've got a pair of light weight canvas slip-ons just waiting for some design and color. A great new addition to the Textile Center's line up is a series of classes that will be taught over the course of 8 weeks geared to learners over 55.  I will be teaching Interlace: Embroidery which I'm really looking forward to. Click on the title to see the full description. It begins on April 25.

I'll also be teaching at two great locations, Crossings at Carnegie, an art center in Zumbrota, MN and Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point, WI. While the Crossings at Carnegie classes aren't listed on the website yet, I'll be teaching Rumi Wisdom on Saturday, April 7 and Quilting Outside the Lines on Saturday May 16. I'll put the links up as soon as they're  available. Here is the link for the class at Shake Rag Alley called Beginning Embroidery: Summer Spiral with Rumi Wisdom on July 28. This will be an all day class where I'll be covering some extras - more stitches (YAY) and special focus on various ways to stitch text. 

I plan on making some updates to my blog including a list all of the classes I'll be teaching on the sidebar so you can always find out where to take a class. If you'd like to have me teach at your guild you'll find a contact section on the sidebar.

I hope to meet some of you in person this coming year!


Four Ways to Embroider Text

Rumi Wisdom
When I taught my first beginning embroidery class a few years ago, one of the first questions I was asked was how to embroider text. It is such a good skill to have so I made sure the design I made for my next class included text. As you can see, it was a spiral with text underneath. I enjoyed the format of the design so much that I have continued designing spirals with interesting quotes. It also has led me to try out different methods of embroidering text. I'll discuss the three I've used, each one giving a little bit different effect and another that is quite common but not on my spiral designs.

Back Stitch Letters
When I designed Rumi Wisdom I knew I wanted to use back stitch because this was going to be used to teach beginning embroidery stitches. It is an easy enough stitch that covers lines very well and works up pretty quickly. A drawback is the letters end up looking a little blocky. If you want smooth curves, this might not be the best stitch to use. 

Emerson Winter

The second spiral design, Emerson Winter, has letters that are a little more stylized with small curves at the ends of some of the letters. I knew that using a back stitch wouldn't give me the look I wanted, so this time I used couching. If you've not done any couching you might find it awkward at first because you have to manage two threads in two needles but after a little practice it is easy. Basically one thread is placed over the line you want it to cover (called the laid stitch) and with the second needle and thread (referred to as the working thread) it is tacked down with tiny stitches. In the case of Emerson Winter I used embroidery floss, but this method allows you to use laid thread that is difficult to stitch with (metallic, thick, fuzzy or loopy threads) because it isn't going in and out of the fabric with every stitch. Couching allows you to get all the loops in the letters you could ever want. 

Couched Letters

Grateful Heart
The next design I created, Grateful Heart, used a different treatment. These letters also have a lot of loops and serifs but I wanted them to stand out more and so I first stitched them all using stem stitch. If you've stitched many curves with stem stitch you know the thread sometimes has a tendency to fall over on itself and the curves aren't very well defined. To keep the definition of the letters I then stitched a satin stitch over the stem stitch. So, essentially, the stem stitch acts as a padding. Although this is fairly time consuming, it creates a really lovely raised letter and I would do it again in a minute.

Working Satin Stitch Over Stem Stitch

All of the lettering in these projects is pretty linear but another method of covering letters that have larger areas to be filled is satin stitch. This is often seen on vintage linens that have monograms. to see some fine examples of satin stitch monograms go here. Mary Corbet's Needle n Thread has a fine list of amazing examples.

In addition, here are links to Mary's videos that give excellent instructions for creating the stitches that were discussed. 

Happy Stitching!