Redwork Santa Pattern

Redwork Santa

 Hello again! I hope you are all doing as well as can be expected and have stayed healthy during this unprecedented year. I have discovered that I am more of an introvert than I realized and have found many house projects to keep busy. There were some new projects as well as some I'd put off for a good long time. 

As far as studio work goes, I completed two new patterns since I last wrote. A Halloween spiral, which can be seen below and here.  The newest pattern is a Redwork Santa at right. It was a lot of fun to make because I used one color of thread for most of it (red, of course) with just a touch of green. My other patterns are fun and full of color but when keeping track of it all to write a pattern it sometimes gets to be a bit much. To see these patterns and all of the patterns I've designed click here to go to my etsy shop!

Halloween Spiral

Two years ago we bought a house in great need of renovation. It had dashes of the 50's (pink kitchen countertops), a lot of 70's including gold and orange carpet and lots of dark paneling and just a touch of 80's wallpaper border.  The carpets and some of the paneling have been replaced. Among the things accomplished in these quarantine months are some newly painted rooms, we changed all of the interior doors and are in the process of adding new molding. I surprised myself and whitewashed the fireplace last week. I thought that was going to be a project I dreamed of but would never get around to doing because, frankly, I was a bit scared to try it. I think it turned out really well though and it only took a couple hours.

Fireplace after painting but still has green tape around it.
We're also trying out some new paint color

I have also been going through boxes and boxes of old family photos and scrapbooks. The images of those who have passed are filled with emotion and more than a few tears were shed, but there was also laughter and joy. 

I hope you have been able to find time to breathe, accomplish some home projects and perhaps a little stitching during this odd time we all find ourselves.


Spring or Easter Cards

Eggs Waiting to Become Cards
How are you all doing? I have been, for the most part, enjoying my home time. I've been organizing, playing with Dave the kitten, and, of course, stitching. One day last week I was feeling bonkers and I decided to change things up a bit and put aside my embroidery. I got out some water color paints, pencils and markers and made some egg shaped Easter/Spring cards. There was an odd size piece of watercolor paper in my stash and I painted stripes of color in soft pastels. Pattern and detail were added with watercolor pencils and thin Micron markers.
Decorated Paper

Next I made an an egg shape template on an old manilla folder and cut the shape out with an Exacto knife.  As you can see from the photo I removed the egg and used the remaining outline of the shape. That way I could see the placement of the designs on the egg. I traced the pattern onto the watercolor paper and cut out the eggs.
Tracing the Template

I thought about writing greetings on the back of the egg but decided to create a card that would open. As you can see, I folded colored paper in half and glued the egg very near the fold.
Egg Positioned Near Fold

I cut around the egg but left about an inch an a half of the fold intact. so it could be opened.

Card Opened
Egg Cut Out With Border

Next is writing some notes and getting them in the mail! Then I will get back to those birds and some other stitching projects I've got going.

If you're feeling bored with your projects try something different for awhile. It keeps your creating time more interesting!
I'm wishing you all the best of health, peace and contentment as we navigate this new way of being. 

Here's a little Dave to make you smile.


Dave and Embroidery Floss Storage

As I write this I hope you are all healthy, practicing social distancing and going out only when necessary. A couple weeks ago we got a six month old kitten and that has made staying in a lot more entertaining. We named him Dave!

 Aside from playing with Dave, I've  been doing a lot of organizing and cleaning up and out. One of the first projects I tackled was my embroidery floss storage. I keep my floss on those little bobbins with the numbers written on them. I had them in a plastic storage bin with drawers and I rigged up a system to keep them in nice neat rows. Unfortunately, about a month ago I dropped it and since it was pretty old the plastic had gotten brittle and the outside structure that held it all together smashed into bits. I was able to keep it together, sort of, until I found something to replace it.

I wanted something other than plastic and my husband offered to build a wooden set of drawers for me. I appreciated the offer but I knew it would be awhile before he would get to it. The day before the dire warnings about Covid-19 hit I was in Home Goods and found these three drawer boxes in the Office section. The drawer height seemed right and so I bought two of them knowing I could return them if they didn't work.

When I tested them out the bobbins were just a bit too tall but I decided that I would trim about 1/8" off of the bottom of each one because I loved the look of the chests and they were so functional. That seems a little crazy since I have so much floss but really, it was about two hours of snipping while watching TV to complete it.

The inside of the drawers weren't divided so I got some balsa wood and cut dividers to go the depth of the drawer and then some smaller pieces that I placed against the front and back walls of the drawer to hold the longer pieces in place. I filled one of the chests and the other one will be divided differently for other embroidery supplies like needles, thimbles, scissors, etc.
Balsa Wood Divider

Dividers for the Rows

There are so many different ways to store embroidery floss and each one works best for the person who uses it. My grandma stored hers in a big jumble in a Wonder Bread bag! How do you store yours?
Three Drawers Organized and Filled


It's Just Too Precious

I have been making little fabric birds for awhile now. I've made them in various ways and out of different materials. I've never embroidered on them though and decided it was time to try that out. I made two out of a nice dark blue and a tried new shapes for the tail. I was really pleased with them. Then came time to stitch on them and I got stuck. I wasn't sure what to do. No, that's not really true, I wasn't sure of the perfect thing thing to do. So they sat and I occupied my time with making cat blankets for the local Humane Society. That was a good thing to do but really it was a way to avoid making a decision. I have been in this place before, too many times to count and frankly, it's getting annoying.

I was pondering my inaction as I was showering (often my best insights happen in the shower) and I was reminded of my friend Susan. She is a textile artist that I am in a critique group with and she thrives on experimentation and her work changes, expands and gets more exciting every time I see her. I realized that I was thinking of those two birds as the only birds I will ever make. They had become precious. If you saw my fabric stash you would know how absurd that was. I needed to make more birds and try as many things as I can think of so I headed to the studio.

As I was going there I remembered all of the vintage embroidered pillowcases in my stash. They are very worn and not good for anything except recycling into something else and the embroidery was the perfect thing to use for my birds. I made two and then found some commercially embroidered fabric so I made one with that too.  It is white on white and doesn't show up very well so I'll add to it with some of my own stitching. Realizing I can make more took the preciousness away from those two little blue birds and allowed my mind to free up to more possibilities.

Today I will make more birds and perhaps start embroidering those polka-dots I'm thinking about for one of the blue ones.


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!