Weekend round-up: Stitchy inspiration

I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend! I’ve been catching up with friends who are visiting from interstate, which has been really lovely.

I was sick this week, but I still managed to find some creative time. I stitched a feather on my favourite pair of pants:

 

I also finished knitting a pair of ankle socks in a crazy colourway from Hedgehog Fibres. I haven’t gotten around to taking a photo yet, but trust me when I say they’re really crazy – in fact I think they might be too crazy for me! I’m considering overdyeing them to mute them down a little bit – I’ve got some black dye on order, so I might give them a soft wash of grey to tone down the brightness. If I do, I promise I’ll post a before-and-after shot.

Speaking of ordering things, I also have not ohttp://blog.karenbarbe.com/2016/10/embroidery-samplers-from-chicago.htmlne but two new yarn orders in place so that I can dye up some more embroidery wool. One will be another wool and silk blend, while the other will be a pure wool. I can’t wait to start playing around with colours for them.

I hope you have a lovely, crafty weekend – I would love to hear what you’re up to! And if you have a few quiet moments, here is a little weekend reading and inspiration:

Meet the maker: Jessica Long from Namaste Embroidery

Jessica Long

I first met scientist-turned-embroiderer Jessica, the stitcher behind Namaste Embroidery, when we took part in a loop giveaway on Instagram together. Her work is in high demand, and with hoops featuring beautiful, vibrant florals and gorgeous wildlife, it’s not hard to see why.

Hippo by Namaste Embroidery

What is hard to believe is that Jessica only picked up a needle last year. In 2015, she and her family moved back to the Pacific Northwest after a decade in California, and with all her painting supplies in storage, she had to turn somewhere else for a creative outlet.

My hands and heart were itching to make something.  A friend posted her embroidery project on Instagram and it looked like a good fit! I loved that it was portable and that it was pretty cheap to get started.  Also it’s much less of a mess if my kid gets into my embroidery supplies than my painting supplies!

Since then, Jessica’s embroidery style has evolved from simple yoga-inspired motifs to rich, textural designs.

I had been fighting a bias against satin stitch (“satin stitch is for machines!”) and thread painting as they are quite time consuming.  But lucky for me I have amazing clients who have requested embroidery projects that have pushed my limits and opened my mind up to what I can do.  That’s why I love custom work! I’ve gotten the most amazing inspiration from my customers.

Namaste Embroidery

Today, Jessica fits her embroidery in around looking after her 2-year-old (as mother to a todder myself, I am totally in awe that she is able to produce the work she does!).

My continued sanity depends on my own self care.  For me that means finding time for embroidery and my yoga practice.  I try to utilise his naps and early bedtime for stitching but some days I am totally beat and despite having embroideries in my queue I need to take a nap, too! I wish I could stitch more but my number one job right now is Mom.

Despite her busy schedule, she has found time to release her first two patterns: a gorgeous floral wreath, and another floral pattern with some fun (although a little NSFW) text. Jessica says she was nervous releasing her first patterns, but she’s been heartened by the positive feedback.

I’m self taught and some days I feel like I have no idea what I am doing.  I know what works for me but am not sure if it is the “correct” way or if I even have the right to teach others. It helps to remember that through my patterns I am simply sharing my design and my experience.

Floral Wreath pattern by Namaste Embroidery

With an attitude like this, it’s easy to see why Jessica’s stitching seems to strike a chord with so many people. For now, she is focusing on surviving the festive season, but in the new year she hopes to dedicate a little more time to stitching for herself.

I hope to get back to some personal work once custom requests quiet down. I was stitching a series of female portraits with elements from nature but have had to temporarily retire them.  I am also interested in attending some local craft fairs next year!

Namaste Embroidery
Instagram
Etsy

Pattern review: Posy by Thread Folk

For a while now I’ve been wanting to hang something above my daughter’s cot. We had a couple of prints that I could have used, but none of them felt quite right. Then I saw the Posy design from Thread Folk and knew it was perfect.
Posy embroidery pattern

The basics
Fabric: I used a natural-look quilting cotton from Spotlight.
Transfer: I traced the design onto the fabric with a Pilot Frixion heat-erasable pen and a light pad
Hoop: For stitching, I used a 10cm (4″) Klass & Gessman beechwood hoop, and for framing I used a 15cm (6″) birch hoop from Spotlight.
Threads: I used my own hand-dyed yarns, except for the lashes, which were stitched with Renaissance Dyeing crewel wool.

Pattern review

This is a downloadable pattern that consists of three files: a printable pattern, a reversed pattern (for use with iron-on transfer methods), and a stitch guide. The pattern sheet is clear and easy to transfer, although guides indicating the centre of the pattern could come in handy. I particularly liked that all of the elements of the pattern were included – I prefer this to a pattern that only includes the major elements and leaves you to decipher the rest from the photo.

The stitch guide consists of:

  • Supplies list
  • Stitch abbreviations
  • Instructions on how to hoop up the fabric, prepare the thread, start and finish stitching, and transfer the design.
  • A diagram showing what stitches and colours to use for each element of the pattern
  • Instructions for framing the design in a hoop

Posy pattern review | Little Twig Designs

I though the stitch guide was very comprehensive. It doesn’t include stitches, which is clearly stated both in the introduction to the pattern, and in the pattern listing on Etsy. Personally, I don’t think this is a problem, as I would prefer to refer to my own stitch guides for any stitches I was unsure of.

I do think the stitch guide could be improved with a little rearrangement. The main problem was that the thread colours and stitch abbreviations were listed two pages away from the stitch diagram, which meant flicking back and forth to find out what the abbreviations and colour numbers referred to. It would have been much easier if there had been a key on the same page as the stitch diagram – this would make it easy to print out one page and have it by you as a reference while you stitch.

I also felt that for new stitchers, I think it would make more sense to have the information about transferring the design come first, rather than how to prepare the hoop and thread, and start and finish stitching. It’s also a bit of a bugbear of mine when people tell beginners that it’s OK to start embroidery with a knot – but that’s a post for another day!

Those concern aside, I thought this was a well-drafted pattern. It provides a lot of room for improvisation – not only did I choose to stitch my version with hand-dyed embroidery yarn instead of stranded cotton, but I also switched out a couple of the stitches. I worked the large leaves in raised fishbone stitch, the small leaves in a detached chain stitch–straight stitch combination, and the white buds in French knots.

Overall, I really enjoyed stitching this design. Of course, when we’re stitching for someone else, one of the most important opinions is that of the recipient – and in this case, I think it’s safe to say she liked it!

Posy pattern review | Little Twig Designs

Introducing Little Twig Designs hand embroidery yarn

I’m very excited to announce that hand-dyed embroidery yarn is now available from the Little Twig Designs store!

Made from a blend of 50% wool and 50% silk, this yarn is a perfect way to add depth and luxury to your next embroidery project. It’s also perfect for laceweight knitting, crochet, weaving, tapestry, needlepoint and mixed media projects. Click on the photos below to find out more.

Mustard yellow embroidery yarn

Hand-dyed embroidery yarn | Little Twig Designs

Pink hand dyed embroidery yarnTeal green hand dyed embroidery thread

Light blue hand dyed embroidery threadRose pink hand dyed embroidery threadApple green hand dyed embroidery thread

Meet the maker: Sonia Lyne from Dandelyne

I’ve had a few people over on Instagram asking me lately where I get my mini embroidery hoops from. The answer is always the same: the very wonderful Sonia from Dandelyne.

This blog is all about sharing the love of embroidery, so I’m keen to share some of the wonderful makers who are out there. Given how important Sonia’s products have been to my embroidery journey over the past year, she was a natural fit for the first maker profile.

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A lifelong stitcher, Sonia’s embroidery journey got serious five years ago.

When our third boy was born, and I was looking for something a little different to a family portrait photo I thought I could stitch us up – so to speak! It was here the flame for hand stitching was re-ignited and my passion for embroidery blossomed.
With three small children, Sonia found it hard to dedicate the time to large embroidery projects.
I realised when I took up my hoop and needle that the world of embroidery could be a little overwhelming, and with my short attention span creeping in at times I began to think how awesome it would be if there was a mini embroidery hoop. I wanted a “little” something that could frame my awesome stitchyness.
dandelyne-family
Compared to most embroidery hoops, which usually start at a diameter of 10cm (4″), Dandelyne hoops range in size from 2.5cm (1″) to 5.5cm (.22″), plus similarly sized oval hoops. This gives stitchers the chance to show off much smaller pieces of embroidery.
A quick peek at the pieces Sonia reposts on her Instagram shows everything from delicate florals to impressionistic landscapes and quirky cross stitches framed inside her hoops. The mini hoops aren’t just popular with embroiderers either, with some people using them to simply frame snippets of their favourite fabrics.
The hoops are made entirely in Melbourne, starting off by being lasercut at Vector & Raster Laser services, before Sonia brings them home to sand them, drill the holes, and check the quality of each hoop. They are then packaged up for sale both as retail sales through the Dandelyne Etsy store, and as wholesale sales to retailers and makers.
Like so many small businesses, Dandelyne is more than just a 9 to 5 job. When the evenings roll around, Sonia can usually be found catching up on any jobs that didn’t get finished during the day, replying to emails and making sure orders are completed.
My hubby is usually right beside me helping me to cut floss, check necklace enclosures and any other job I can give his empty hands.
With such a successful business, it would be easy for Sonia to rest on her laurels. Instead, she’s always working to create new products. Recently, she added a fun sampler kit to her product line, and she says there are plans for more patterns.
I am working on a few things at the moment and one that I am super excited about is working with artists to create patterns and designs for everyone to enjoy, highlighting and sharing the talent of many illustrators and designers around the world.
etsy-shot-2
A big thank you to Sonia for being such a wonderful participant in this profile! I’m looking forward to sharing my next profile with you, and if there is anyone in particular you would like to see in this feature, let me know in the comments.
Dandelyne

A fresh start 

I read a great post by Yuki over at Y*Handmade, where she talked about the Japanese tradition of marking the change to autumn by setting a goal:

there’s a tradition of setting a theme for the pleasant season, a purpose towards which to funnel one’s renewed energy and focus.

It might be spring here in Australia, but this really resonated with me. Embroidery has been feeling like a bit of a chore lately, and I think it’s because I’ve been purely focused on stitching my own designs.

cactus3

Whether I’m working on jewellery or a design for a pattern, I find the stitching process a bit stressful – I’m constantly thinking about whether I’m using the right colours or stitches, and every time I have to unpick some stitching, I feel the pressure of those wasted minutes.

So this spring, I’ve decided to give myself permission to be a little selfish. I’ll still work on things for my Etsy store, but I’ll also take the time to do some stitching that’s just for me.

yumiko-higuchi-wreath

I have a Yumiko Higuchi design that I started about 6 months ago, which I’d really like to finish. I also have some different threads in my stash that I’d really like to experiment with, like Danish flower threads and coton a broder.

I’ll be sharing my projects here, plus I’ve got some interviews planned with some really wonderful stitchers and makers – I can’t wait for you to come on the journey with me!