Stitch School: Granitos

Stitch School has moved to it's very own space on the web! You'll now find the Granitos post here. Comments are now closed on this post; if you'd like to leave a comment please do so on the new one.


new project

I haven’t shown one of my own projects for a while. I go through periods where I don’t have time to embroider for a few weeks and then I take it up again. But I recently started a new project and wanted to show you and also take the opportunity to talk about color choices. I mentioned in my embroidery basics post that DMC thread comes in about a million colors. That’s a slight exaggeration—it’s actually 454 solids and 18 variegated (and that's just for the six-strand embroidery floss). So, choosing colors for your projects may still seem a bit overwhelming. Personally, I like colors that are “real” and by that I mean colors that are true to life and natural to the subject I'm embroidering.

I started this vintage Vogart dresser scarf earlier this week. The original was very long and, since I'm going to make pillows from it, I cut it in half. I'll save the other half for later.

stamped project

I wasn't sure what the flower was and needed to think about it for a while so I began with the leaves and used a nice leafy green.

finished leaf

When the leaves were done I couldn't put off the decision on the flower colors any longer. So I got out some of my gardening books and I'm 99% sure it's a wild rose. Flowers in embroidery projects are often stylized so it’s not always easy to figure out what they are.

Wow, look at all those French knots!

Wild roses are usually pink but I have this gorgeous red and yellow rose print (Forties Retro by Sharon Yenter for In the Beginning Fabrics ©2004) in my stash that I’d really like to use so my roses are going to be red instead. Not entirely accurate but close enough.


So I chose embroidery thread colors to coordinate with this fabric. I’ll use the darker red for the lines radiating out from the center and yellow for the French knots. Did I already mention all those French knots?

embroidery floss

And I’ve even thought ahead to the buttons I'll use to complete the design, although I haven’t decided for sure…


That’s my process. I'm almost always pairing my work with fabrics so I look for my embroidery colors within the prints and patterns. And I really like to play up the lesser colors, too. It's hard to discuss color because it's so personal—your likes, dislikes, and color choices will be much different than mine. But, as a general rule, think about how and where you’ll use what you’re embroidering. If you’re doing tea towels for your kitchen, choose colors that work with your color scheme. Making baby things? Don't just think of the traditional blues and pinks. And if you're into mod then go ahead and do a crazy mix of turquoise, lime green, and hot pink! When it comes to color, it's all good.


Studio Friday: LOOK WHO I FOUND... !

Well the pressure is on because I'm the one who suggested this week's topic!

"I love to discover new artists and often find them through other peoples mentions of them. So, introduce us, in words and/or pictures, to an artist, craftsperson, or writer you admire and that we might not have heard of before (i.e. not a famous one). What do you like about their work? How does it inspire your own work?"

I'd like to introduce you to the work of Brad and Sundie Ruppert. They create whimsical sculptures—everything from birds to cowgirls to angels—from wire and scrap metal and vintage found objects that they discover in their travels around the country. Each sculture is quirky and one-of-a-kind and I love that each time you look at one you find more things to see.

Seeing Eye Dog
Seeing Eye Dog

They support themselves as freelance graphic designers just as I do and I love how they describe that in their about us section...

"We currently have two careers...one that feeds our kids (freelance graphic design) and one that feeds our souls (Vintage Sculpture). We are lucky enough that those two things work pretty well together and allow us the freedom to travel and pursue our dreams...whatever that might be."

What do I like about their work? I've always loved assemblage (an artistic process in which a three-dimensional artistic composition is made from putting together found objects—sort of a 3-D cousin of collage) and admire artists like Joseph Cornell, Deborah Butterfield, and Janet Bolton. I love the idea of taking other peoples discards and recombining them into something new and wonderful. Isn't that what I do, except with fabric?

All of which inspires me to be a bit more experimental in my own work. And to look at everyday objects in a new way.

See more of their work at Vintage Sculpture. And read about other artists here.


A secret revealed

It's nearly killed me to not talk about this, but I've been keeping a secret since last summer. And having worked on a few book designs myself during my career as a graphic designer, I know how easy it is to be bumped from a book at the last minute. I didn't want to jinx it by talking about it too soon. But I've seen proofs and the book is scheduled for release in a few weeks so I think it's finally safe to announce it to the world!

vintage handkerchief pillow

Back in July I was asked to contribute a project for one of my handkerchief pillows (the one shown here) to a book about modern crafting being written by Amy Spencer and published by Marion Boyars Publishing in the UK. Of course, I said yes, and wrote up a pattern and shipped the pillow off to London. Through a series of mixups that I won't go into detail about, the package went missing. Luckily I had taken photos (as I do with everything I make, because you just never know) and they were able to use them in place of the ones their photographer would have taken. Three months later, the pillow showed up at my door. I had to pay the return shipping from the UK to get it back but I was so relieved to see it.

Anyway, this is the book and it's filled with projects from crafters and small businesses that will be familiar to you. Like Subversive Cross Stitch, Gerbera Designs, Jill Bliss, and Angry Chicken. And I'm honored and thrilled to be part of the group.

Crafter Culture Handbook

The book is due to be released on February 10th and can be preordered from Amazon now. If you live in the UK you can preorder directly from the publisher and get free shipping. I can't wait until my copy arrives. It won't really feel real until I have the book in my hands :)

1.28 Updated to add that there's a complete project list at the publishers web site.


Stitch School: Coral Stitch

Stitch School has moved to it's very own space on the web! You'll now find the Coral Stitch post here. Comments are now closed on this post; if you'd like to leave a comment please do so on the new one.


vintage valentines

There's a new group on Flickr for vintage valentines. Come join if you have valentines to contribute or just stop by to look at all the cool old valentines members are posting.

vintage valentine

You wear the 'craziest' hats
They nearly drive me 'bats'
Outside of that you're 'okay'
You're my valentine anyway.

See more from my collection here.



We get to see these wonderful studios, - how about not showing our own, but choose among the great studios we know about now? Tell us a little about why you like this studio, what you would like to do if you could work there for a day as it was your own, and, - if it is so, - you have learned from this studio/ artist? ~ mereteveian

amy hamilton studio
©Tara Sgroi (photo)

This is the home studio of millinery designer Amy Hamilton. I clipped this picture from a magazine several years ago (Country Living, I think) and have it saved in one of my scrapbooks. It's a separate room off the kitchen of her old farmhouse in Ohio.

I love how clean and white it is. And I'm seriously crushing on those shelves along the righthand wall. Would I be more organized if I had shelves like that? Probably not, but this is a dream, isn't it? I bet when she's working and the studio isn't cleaned up for picture-taking, that her studio is messy, too.

A quote from the accompanying article—

"I have this old wall of post-office cubbies filled with trims... At night, I start putting together colors and textures. I'll develop an idea and the next day, while the children are in school. I'll actually make the hat."

Although we work in totally different areas, her process is very similar to my own. I gather materials for a project, then let them sit overnight (and sometimes longer), walking past a few times and checking whether I still like the combination. If I decide it's not working, it doesn't go any further than that. If I still like it the next day, then it's good to go.

I picture myself in this studio with the sun streaming in the window and my fabrics all organized in their cubbyholes. I reach behind me for the perfect fabrics and embellishments. My work is simple and clean and my mind is uncluttered with stray thoughts and worries. I'm totally focused on the process of creating. Somebody pinch me :)

See more beautiful and inspiring studio dreams here.


embroidery basics

Stitch School has moved to it's very own space on the web! You'll now find posts about choosing fabrics here and basic tools here. Comments are now closed on this post; if you'd like to leave a comment please do so on the new ones.


i love hearts

I'm in the Indie Fixx Valentine's Gift Guide this month! And I made some special valentine-themed pillows and sachets for the occasion, too (one of the reasons I haven't been posting as much here).

valentine collection

Free shipping with discount code INDIEFIXX. But, if you'd rather have 15% off, use discount code HEART. Different promo, same stuff.



It’s been interesting reading some of Martin Luther King’s speeches today and realizing how very little progress we’ve made. And how relevant and current his words are. Just substitute the word Iraq for Vietnam and see how little history has taught us.

"Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours."

"We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight."

Martin Luther King
Beyond Vietnam—A Time to Break Silence
April 7, 1967

Stitch School: Woven Filling Stitch

Stitch School has moved to it's very own space on the web! You'll now find the Woven Filling Stitch post here. Comments are now closed on this post; if you'd like to leave a comment please do so on the new one.


Studio Friday: TRAVELS!

Suggested by Hanne—

"Travelling is a wonderful possibility to open for new inspiration and ideas. I´ll say it's actually one of the greatest advantages to travelling!

A lot of new impressions and probably also new materials to bring home for future artwork. Maybe new friends - who knows? Anyway, I thought it could be very interesting to know where other bloggers travel. And if you don't travel right now because of limited economy or other restrictions - I think we always travell in our mind: dreaming of somewhere in the countryside - or maybe a big city loaded with museums, galleries and flea markets for new "input" for our studios and art."

I kind of stopped traveling a few years ago—right around the time I bought my house. If you have one, you know that there's nothing quite like a house for sucking up any spare cash you might have. The same could be said for having a small business—LOL!

Not that I don't go on trips. I drive all the time to places within a couple of hours to visit flea markets and antique shows. And I sometimes have meetings with clients for my graphic design business. But the "take a plane, go somewhere exotic or foreign" kind of travel is something I haven't done for a while. But I have my list of places I'd love to go—a travel wish list if you will.

• Italy. Because of writers like Barbara Grizzuti Harrison and Frances Mayes who made the country come alive in their writings about living and traveling there. And because of movies like Under the Tuscan Sun and Room With a View and even The Godfather. The food would be heaven. The art, too.

• United Kingdom. Because my ancestors are from Ireland and Scotland and I'd love to see some of the places they lived. And I'd love to meet up with some of my online friends like Camilla and Joanna for crazy crafting, flea marketing (or whatever you call it across the pond), and hanging out in pubs. Not necessarily in that order.

• Japan. Because it's crazy busy and exciting and I love sushi. And Japanese crafts. I'd need an extra suitcase (or two) to haul all the cool stuff home.

In the US I'd love to get back to Sanibel-Captiva in Florida. If you love beaches and shelling and hanging out rather than nightlife this is the place to do it. And I highly recommend the grouper sandwich at the Lazy Flamingo. I haven't been back since the hurricane almost destroyed the islands a few years ago so it would be interesting to see how much it's changed.

I'd also love to head west to the coast and meet up with some of my California, Seattle, and Portland friends. Doesn't it seem like an awful lot of cool people live out there? I have invites for treasure hunting from Selena and Carrie and for surfing (!) from Stephanie and maybe someday I'll actually get to do it. Well, maybe not the surfing :)

So, while most of my travels take place in my imagination these days, I hope to get back to it for real soon. Because Hanne's right—it is inspiring. Both the people you meet and the things you see.

More adventure here.



Finally some snow! Not a lot but enough to dust everything with white and make it look pretty for a few hours until the sun comes up and it melts away.

snowy bench

I've had this wooden fan-back bench forever. I bought it for half price at a garden center in Indianapolis when I lived there. And it's moved with me every time. Even when I didn't have a garden to put it in. Right now it's on the back patio but will likely move again as we redesign the gardens. Sometimes you just have to wait until the perfect spot materializes.


Stitch School: Wheatear

Stitch School has moved to it's very own space on the web! You'll now find the Wheatear Stitch post here. Comments are now closed on this post; if you'd like to leave a comment please do so on the new one.


sailor take warning

red sky

There was the most beautiful sky this morning when I woke up. I know—if you go by the old rhyme: Red sky at night, sailor's delight; red sky at morning, sailor take warning—then it will likely rain tomorrow. But that's OK. It was perfect yesterday and I spent several hours photographing new buttons and trims to add to the site. One of my New Year's resolutions is to get more organized and moving out some of the materials I know I won't be using is one way to help with that.

The trims were from a boxful that someone sent me last year. Lots of pretty machine and handmade lace and crochet. I'll also have more vintage rickrack soon—that still needs to be photographed.

And on it's way to me from Chicago is a box full of vintage buttons that I purchased from a woman who was settling her mother's estate. They looked gorgeous in the photos she sent and should be more so in person, so I can't wait for them to arrive. Of course, I'll be keeping a lot of them to use myself, but there will be plenty to list, too.

So, if you like buttons and trims, check back in a week or so to see what's new. And I recently reorganized my trims page into categories so it's easier to find exactly what you want. I'll be doing that for the buttons, too. See, it's all part of that organizing I mentioned earlier.


kim family auction

Just a heads up that the kim family benefit art + craft auction begins tomorrow!

What is this you ask? It's an auction of items donated by 40 independent artists—paintings, prints, ceramics, soft toys, jewelry, paper goods and home decor—with 100% of the proceeds donated to the Kim Family Fund. Bidding begins on January 3rd and continues through January 7th. If you go to the blog now you'll see previews of the auction items (and there's some amazing stuff) and more information about the artists who created them.

Of particular interest to my Stitch School readers is the art quilt designed by Kristin La Flamme. Titled "California Special", it features gorgeous hand-embroidery (see a closeup of it in the second photo) and surface embellishments along with the linoleum-print fabrics and vintage flour sack that form the base. Some people think embroidery is old-fashioned, but if it's used in unconventional ways it really isn't at all!


Stitch School: Fly Stitch

Stitch School has moved to it's very own space on the web! You'll now find the Fly and Twisted Fly Stitches post here. Comments are now closed on this post; if you'd like to leave a comment please do so on the new one.