November 13, 2012
I haven’t been embroidering as much as I used to, but hopefully this winter will make me want to curl up under a blanket with my hoops and needles. I made this piece over the summer (one of the few pieces I did this year) for my mother. It’s our favorite poem from a book of nonsense poetry that I adored when I was a child:
Mother, may I go and swim? Yes, my darling daughter. Hang your clothes on yonder limb, but don’t go near the water.
My mother doesn’t need things, which can make getting presents for her difficult. But when this idea popped into my head, it went from idea to reality in very little time.
I’m especially happy with how the two-tone coloring came out. I wanted there to be a little variation in shades but have it remain one color. The matting of the finished piece helped pull it together too.
And in case anyone was wondering, here’s a little insight into my planning process for a piece. I take the original (here, a photocopy of the page from the book, blown up to the size I needed) and create a simplified tracing of it on my lightbox. Then I use a water-soluble pen to trace that simplified design onto the fabric (again, on the lightbox).
February 14, 2012
When I signed up for the Oh Strumpets Valentine’s Day Craft Swap, I couldn’t have imagined that I would be paired with one of the coolest, sweetest nerds on the internet – Kelly of Craftlockian. We bonded in emails over nerdy/geeky things like books, video games, and of course, crafts. For the swap, Kelly made me these gorgeous fingerless gloves (in my favorite color, of course!) and an adorable heart pin. Since we’re both gamer girls, I thought it would only be fitting to declare these my gaming gloves, because my hands get way too cold when using my xbox controller.
In our emails, Kelly told me about her love for all things Sherlock Holmes. That made it pretty easy for me to pick an idea 🙂 I skimmed through some of the old Sherlock books at my bookstore and really loved the original illustrations that went with them. This particular illustration is from The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle (with modifications, of course, to make it Valentines-y). I liked that the two men were so puzzled over what they were looking at on the chair. I hope Kelly likes it!
The embroidery is done in back stitch, French knots, and satin stitch (with a little added lace), black and red on ivory cotton.
October 9, 2011
Ever since I finished my N is for Neville piece over a year ago, I’ve been wanting to embroider more of Edward Gorey‘s Gashlycrumb Tinies. I immediately decided on my second favorite part of the Gashlycrumb Tinies, Z is for Zillah, simplified the drawing to make it easier to stitch, then promptly forgot about it.
And then, about a week ago, a former teacher and current internet friend informed me that Panopticon, the art libraries interest group I co-chaired during my time at Simmons GSLIS, was looking for submissions for their art show. I emailed a few pieces over to the coordinator, and she said she especially like my Neville. I thought a matching pair would look so much better than a couple of mismatched pieces, so I jumped into production on the Zillah piece and managed to stitch it in only a couple of days. Much like my Neville piece, I started stitching at Starbucks, where no one except one little kid looked at me twice.
I won’t be able to make the exhibit opening next week, but I hope to stop by the next time I’m near Simmons to take a peek. The exhibit will be up until the end of the spring semester and is in the GSLIS Tech Lab. Maybe there’ll be some pictures on the Panopticon site.
This project also served as a nice reminder to work on short projects every now and again. Right now, I’m in the middle of two fairly large projects, and I vacillate between procrastinating on one and procrastinating on the other. Banging out this piece in a few short hours gave me the sense of accomplishment that I needed, and now I’m feeling slightly better about those other two pieces.
Oh, and I also taught myself the scroll stitch for the design on the wall. Yay for learning new stitches!
August 22, 2011
I know that by now, I’ve expressed my love for the Phat Quarter a million ways. The Phat Quarter is the Flickr branch of the wonderful stitchers found on the Mr. X Stitch site. I feel honored every time one of my pieces goes up on Mr. X Stitch, and I wouldn’t be able to do half of what I am able to do if it weren’t for the people in the Phat Quarter and all the photos of their truly amazing creations.
Ok, enough of that.
Every few months, there’s a swap held on the Phat Quarter, with some theme to stitch around before mailing off to a stranger. This month’s theme was food – a perfect theme for a food blogger, no? Pop culture references usually go over pretty well in this group, so when a few different Simpsons quotes popped into my head immediately, I figured I had a good foothold on the subject (did I mention that I taught a class in college on the Simpsons for not one, but two semesters?). Then I found out the person I was mailing to is named Lisa (here’s her blog!), and ideas started to fall into place. I asked Lisa if she was a Simpsons fan to make sure my plan would work (although if she had said no, I don’t think I had a back up…).
I opted for one of my favorite lines of Simpsons dialogue, from the episode Lisa the Vegetarian (yep, the one with Paul and Linda McCartney)… only to find out that I have been misquoting the episode for years (and I use this quote pretty damn often). I like the version in my head better (“mystical, magical animal”), but I had to stick to the real quote for the stitching.
The whole time I was stitching this, I had a strong craving for bacon…
June 8, 2011
My life has generally been beyond shitty lately, so when a new Phat Quarter embroidery swap rolled around, I was not particularly gung-ho on participating. But then I saw that the theme was books, and I felt that, as a librarian and bookseller, I would be remiss NOT to partake in the challenge. For someone who loves books as much as I do (have you been to my book blog?), you’d think I would have an easy time coming up with an idea, but I was stumped (that not-wanting-to-participate thing probably had something to do with that).
I was discussing Edward Gorey with someone at the bookstore one day, and finally inspiration struck. I flipped through the anthologies of his work (Amphigorey, Amphigorey Too, Amphigorey Also, and Amphigorey Again) and came across the above image, one that I had never noticed before. I thought it was more than perfect for the swap.
The piece is done all in backstitch, and while the original has a lot of muted color in it, I like the simplicity of black and white for Gorey’s art. I hope my swap partner anUnquietMind enjoys the piece.
I received this amazing piece from crafty mcgee. I sent her a bunch of ideas of books I love, including a link to my book blog, and she captured a scene from one of my favorite recent books, The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger. The graphic novel tells the story of a mysterious bookmobile and a woman’s love of books. It’s a fast read. I even got two of my coworkers, neither of whom have ever read a graphic novel before, to read it through.
What I found especially touching is that the face detail on the left side of the bookmobile is actually from one of my photos that crafty mcgee pulled from my photostream. She did an amazing job capturing the image in a space the size of a quarter (here’s a comparison of the images). What she didn’t know, though, is that I look at the picture every day because it hangs right above my TV. And when I finally get around to hanging my Wall of Awesome (including this and all the other pieces I’ve received), the two will be near each other.
May 22, 2011
So of course, when Ann’s birthday rolled around and it was time for me to embroider her gift (last year she got this), she tossed out the idea of “Cake or Death,” a bit from Izzard’s Dress to Kill. It’s one of his most famous bits and one that we refer to often (“I’m covered in bees!” being another popular line for us). I’m pretty sure Ann didn’t know how she wanted the line embroidered, just that she wanted it to hang on her wall somehow. (Here is another part to the Cake or Death joke, setting up why the Church of England is particularly funny.)
Someone on Flickr had used an awesome blood-drippy font on a project, and I instantly knew how to design this. Simply “cake” and “death.” Pretty straight forward, really. Of course, there are so many other great lines from Mr. Izzard that I could be kept busy just embroidering all of them.
The piece is done entirely in satin stitch. I was very happy with how it turned out, and by looking through my past pieces, I can see that my satin stitch has improved roughly 1000 percent.
March 29, 2011
It’s been a while, huh? Well, fear not, I’ve still been around stitching. There just hasn’t been much will to blog. That’s changing, I assure you. So while I have not one, not two, but three (3!) pieces going at once right now (I NEVER have more than one, as I like to make sure they get finished), I can give you a sneak peek at the one that should be finished first above. Yes, that’s a letter D dripping in blood. What’s it to you?!
October 9, 2010
Have you heard that there’s a potential third Bill and Ted movie in the works? I’m a huge fan of the original (and yes, the sequel had some decent moments), and the news got me thinking about just how great a movie Excellent Adventure is. One of my favorite moments is when the boys meet the princesses and play around in authentic armor. Bill accidentally pushes Ted down a flight of stairs, and when he gets down to the bottom of the stairs, he finds another knight pushing a sword through Ted’s armor. No worries, though – Ted rolled out of the suit as he fell down the stairs.
I found this suit of armor clipart and gothic font online, and I love how the design looks so serious, especially when you consider what the words say. The armor is done in back stitch and French knots (a little satin stitch, too), and while I had originally intended just to outline the letters, I went with satin stitch instead and am very happy with the outcome. (My satin stitch abilities also got about ten times better while working on this piece alone!)
What’s your favorite Bill and Ted quote? Because I could quote “the two great ones” all day…
September 14, 2010
August was time for another Phat Quarter swap, this time themed around movies. I had so many ideas that I was having a hard time narrowing it down – One of my favorites like Donnie Darko? Zoolander? Or one of my favorite classics like La Voyage Dans La Lune? Metropolis?
In the end, I decided to go a little meta and stitch something about going to the movies. The 1953 animated short “Let’s All Go To The Lobby” is so classic that most people can recognize it (at least recognize the song). I took a screen shot from the video and fussed with it a little to make all the characters and expressions clear. (The front guy also has a lot of swagger in the video, so I stood him up a bit to line up with the others.)
I chose a fabric that looked a little like an old theater curtain, but since it was so dark, I had to draw the pattern on a piece of tear-away stabilizer (I did this before my doomed embroidereading piece, and thankfully this came out much cleaner). I feel like I learned a lot on this piece, and I can even see my own learning curve on it – the first character I did was the popcorn, and I screwed him up enough that he looks like he’s on a diet. My satin stitches aren’t perfect on this, but they’re better than they were at the start!
I also learned to love French knots on this piece. The popcorn is all French knots, with two stands of pale yellow and one of white for a butter-drenched look. I added them in a kind of a 3D effect so it would look like real popcorn, and I’m thrilled with the results. (Here are details of the candy bar, the popcorn, the candy box, and the soda.)
My piece went out to Smallest Forest, who creates some really gorgeous stuff. In return, I received the above piece, inspired by ET, from Helena Puck. Isn’t it cute?! She blended blue and gray floss to create a more moon-like color. I also love the idea of a hanger for display! So easy to make and yet it looks so graceful – I’m totally stealing this idea 🙂
All of the Phat Quarter movie swap pieces are here, if you want to take a look (and yes, you really do want to take a look).
September 8, 2010
After hurrying through my final embroidereading piece, I needed a little time off from needlework. But only a few days later, on September 3rd, Stitching in Public day rolled around, and of course I wanted to participate. I’ve been wanting to embroider this panel from Edward Gorey‘s Gashlycrumb Tinies for ages, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so.
As I started planning this piece, though, I thought it might not work. The original drawing is so heavily shaded, and I wanted to keep this fairly simple. Even after I traced over the original to create my own template, I thought it was too simple and that it wouldn’t look anything like the original when I was finished.
But I went ahead with it anyway. I hooped up the fabric and headed out to Starbucks. I took one of the big armchairs right next to the register so that everyone would have to go past me and see what I was doing (plus, they’re more comfortable to stitch in). No one even gave me a glance, though. Maybe because, in the early stages, this piece just looked like a bunch of intersecting lines?
In the end, I’m insanely happy with this piece. It only took me 3 hours to make, shorter than most of my things, and I never reached the stage where I just want to be done so I don’t have to look at the piece any more.
Plus, how great does this little guy look?!