Shopping! Classes! Updates!

Craftsman Coneflower
There are a few new updates to Threads of Inspiration. I've put a few links up to my etsy shop, both on the side and in the link bar at the top.

In addition I've added a new embroidery pattern, Craftsman Coneflower, to the shop. It is great for a new embroiderer or if you want a little refresher on your skills. The stitches used are stem, satin, chain and french knots. The directions suggest two different color schemes, but of course you can choose your own.  It's a little brush up on some old favorite stitches and you end up with this great design for a pillow or framed picture.

I teach a lot of classes and my class descriptions are another addition to the top bar. Perhaps you need a program for your guild, club, art center or a group of friends. I'd be happy to work with you and organize a class. In addition I can customize it to fit your group's interests.

In the category of exciting!!!! I'm happy to announce I'll be teaching several classes at the Textile Center of Minnesota this winter and spring. Stay tuned for updates and links when the registration opens.


Which Needle Should I Use?

I have a lot of needles for pretty much every kind of sewing. When I take them out of their original packages they never make it back. They wind up in one of my four pincushions, a small tin or stuck into some fabric that is ready for future stitching.  I never know what kind or size needle I'm using but this works just fine for me.

The first time I taught a class I was asked 'What size needle should I use?' Oh, oh!  I really didn't know. My best answer was, 'The one that works.'  Not much of an answer for someone who does pay attention to those sorts of things.  

The question got me thinking about how to know if a needle is the right one. I came up with four things to consider when choosing a needle:

  • Does the thread go through the eye easily?
  • Does the needle stay threaded while stitching?
  • When stitching, does the needle go through the thread easily without catching at the eye?
  • After taking a stitch does the fabric close around the thread?

If you answered yes to all of those questions, congratulations! You have the correct type and size needle for the thread you are using.

If you answered no, try a different needle. There is nothing more aggravating than fighting with your needle! If your sewing box isn't filled with a selection of needles, you have a reason to go to the fabric store! Have a nice variety on hand - embroidery, betweens, sharps, chenilles, tapestry, even glovers! They will all come in handy for some project or other.


Gettin' Stitchy

You've got your design transferred on the fabric, it's all hooped up and ready to go, but wait, you need some stitches! There are some amazing links with stitch libraries on the web. Some include video while others have excellent drawings and photographs. It seemed silly for me to do a bunch of my own so I thought I'd share a little bit of what is out there.  

When I do embroidery I mostly use a few simple stitches, seed stitch, stem stitch, french knots and satin stitch.  If you master these you are armed to start making art.  While many of these stitches are used as outlines or decorations I like to use them as filling stitches to create images of thread.  More about that later though...I want you to get the hang of the basic ones and then we'll get on to the really creative part. There are so many stitches to learn on the sites I've posted that it is easy to get overwhelmed. To keep it simple, you can start with the ones I've listed above (they are all linked) but do check out these links. They are so inspirational!

     Mary's site is jam packed with information and inspiration

     Beautifully photographed and explained

    Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching put together some great tutorials. Check out her wacky embroidery patterns while you're there.

Sharon Boggon's Pintangle Stitch Dictionary
       An extensive list of beautiful stitches


Back to Basics

Tree Woman, embroidered detail by Susan Leschke
March 29, 2008 is the birthdate of this blog and I'm shocked that over seven years have passed! I've posted about trips, projects, recipes, various moves and life events. I've participated in blog hops, gotten to know many interesting people and it's been fun.

It's time to make a few changes that I think will create a better blog. As many of you know my passion is textile arts and so that is what I've decided to focus on.

It is difficult to create anything without some fundamentals and I've been thinking about embroidery lately so let's start with that. A beginner to a novice will find some great advice at these links - I've been embroidering for about four decades and I'm going to test out some new transfer ideas.  Enjoy the little tour and brush up on a few basics.

Needlework Tips and Techniques
Mary Corbet's Needle and Thread

Needlework Tips and Techniques
Mary Corbet's Needle and Thread


Urban Threads
Wild Olive
Sublime Stitching


Great Finds!

The Minnesota Textile Center is a favorite place for enthusiasts of all things fiber.  They have several galleries, an amazing library, a shop, a dye lab that can be rented by members, classroom and lecture space. In addition, the Minnesota Handweavers have a large space filled with rooms and weaving equipment. When I hit Minneapolis and St Paul it is always a stop and a place I like to support.  Every spring they have the Textile Garage Sale which is a great place to pick up used equipment, fabric, yarn, thread, patterns and books. There is also a silent auction for larger pieces of equipment (looms, knitting machines, sewing machines, etc)  This year I am happy to say I won the bid for a serger.  I'm still learning how to use and it's been more fun than frustrating.

Vintage textiles were also in my shopping basket.  There is a great pin on Pinterest for some brooches of old embroideries so I will give that a go.  The needlepoint was to be remade into a new pillow but it needs a lot of TLC.  After removing the old rotted backing I gently washed it and blocked it.  The more I worked with it the more problems I was finding.  It was made with two colors of yarn, one wool, one acrylic, there are lots of missing stitches and it is wonky.  The pillow idea has gone by the wayside and smaller pillows or pincushions are more likely.  If you have any ideas for what this might become I welcome them!

Please forgive the upside down orientation of this image...computer glitch that I cant seem to fix.



Yarn for Aranami Shawl
For the third year in a row my sister-in-law and I have gone to the Minnesota Yarn Shop Hop and the Textile Center's Garage Sale.  It is our fiber filled rite of spring.  The Yarn Shop Hop features 17 yarn shops in and around Minneapolis and St Paul. Not only is it a great way for friends to get together and explore the yarn shops, it is also a fundraiser for local food banks.  This year $37,500 dollars were raised - yahoo!  
Future Socks and Scarf
Each shop provides a free pattern (of which many can be found in their Ravelry stores) and special yarns to go with the pattern.  This year I found some beautiful yarn for a shawl called Aranami (find the pattern here), some socks and the scarf below.  The scarf was super-simple, easy-peasy and the pattern is free.  I used Schoppel Ambiente a self striping yarn - a bit heavier than sock yarn but any yarn will do.  The trick is to use the size needle the yarn calls for and not what the pattern suggests.  Here is a link to the pattern.  If you try out the scarf I'd love to see a photo! Next time - the highlights of the Textile Center's Garage Sale!
Not a Celebrity Scarf


Sew Mama Sew Softie Contest

Unfortunately I did not escape this winter's round of horrible viruses. My activities for the last week and a half have mostly been blowing my nose, sucking on cough drops and napping. I'm happy to report I'm nearing the end of all of that but alas, not much to report on. While I was sick, I was still checking my e-mail on my tablet and I kept seeing great posts from Sew Mama Sew (one of my favorite places). They are sponsoring a softie contest with some amazing prizes. In addition to the contest you will find posts by designers, some free patterns and tutorials, and lots of fun. Go here to check out what they have going on. While you are there notice their background full of pins and needles.  It's darling!