Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Book Review: The Needlepoint Book


We were offered a review copy of The Needlepoint Book by Jo Ippolito Christensen, and I jumped at the chance to review it. I've been working in embroidery for many years, but I've never actually tried needlepoint, so I was interested to learn more about it.

Once I had a chance to thumb through the book, I quickly realized it was the perfect book for someone new to the craft. The author has done extensive research to create a virtual encyclopedia for needlepoint.

The book is broken into four main sections: a very thorough "getting started" guide, a series of instructions on ways to use painted canvases available for needlepoint, a section for proper blocking and finishing of your work, and a comprehensive list of stitches. There is also a bonus section of inspiring color photos showing examples of different ways to use needlepoint.

Each of these sections really does have everything you would need to get started in needlepoint. I'm confident that even someone with no prior understanding of fiber arts would be able to jump into this craft with this book as a guide. Additionally, I'm sure someone who enjoyed working in needlepoint could find plenty of new and useful information in these pages. The author has a wonderful depth of knowledge in her field and shares that knowledge clearly.

The book is also generously illustrated, with wonderful photographs showing different techniques and very clear stitch diagrams to help you understand any needlepoint stitch you might want to use.

I'm excited to have a book with all of this information conveniently contained in one volume. If you're interested in needlepoint at all, I think this is a great title to add to your library.

The Needlepoint Book is published by Touchstone and is available wherever you like to shop for books: Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Powell's

Have you been learning any new fiber arts lately? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Found on Flickr: Life will divide us


This beautiful new piece by Michelle Kingdom is called 'Life will divide us'. I love the composition and suggestion of depth in this piece. The sense of movement in the feather-dresses is brilliant too. Check out this piece (in detail) and other work by Michelle in her photostream on Flickr.

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Social stitching: social networks

Stitch Together - &Stitches Even the most introverted of us can be a social stitcher. I stitch alone, at home, but I still feel part of the stitching community by using social networks. When I first started embroidery I was a regular on Craftster and it was the words of encouragement from other people there that helped me start my embroidery journey. It was through Craftster that I discovered people stitching all sorts of styles and subjects and I made friends there I am still in touch with years later.

From Craftster I started using Flickr and joining various embroidery groups and stitch-alongs there. If you are ever in need of inspiration our Flickr group is a great place to visit- and if you share your work there it might catch our eye and make it into one of our 'found on flickr' posts!

The came the Pinterest obsession! We've all been through this right?
For me Pinterest is great for inspirational ideas but it doesn't feel as 'social' as the other sites, people seem to interact less there. It's still a great resource though and people do use it to share images of their work but I don't think people comment as much as on other sites, which is a shame.

My current favourite social network site is Instagram- you will find all the &Stitches team there. Because it is so quick to upload to Instagram people tend to posts lots of stuff like in-progress shots, or photos of sketches, or pictures of their beautifully organised floss collections. It is nice to see someone's process outside of the carefully curated images on their blog! It is quite lovely when you are sitting stitching with a mug of tea and a friend posts a photo showing they are doing the exact same thing- you might not be in the same room but you are still 'stitching together'. It's super easy to find people to follow there too- there are loads of stitchers on instagram and a quick search of #embroidery or #handembroidery will bring up loads of results.

photos from the #handembroidery tag on instagram- images by @sweetlings_dream, @emillieferris, @heartstringsbyallie and @homestitchness

My tips for getting the most of social networks are:
Follow people- lots of people when you follow someone check out the people they follow and if you like what you see follow them too!
Like and comment- chatting to other people is the point right? Don't just 'lurk'
Share something of yourself- I love seeing glimpses of people's lives, I might get to know someone because of a shared love of embroidery but it's cool to find out more about them (especially when that includes a peek into their homes!)
Sign up for swaps or stitch-a-longs, some of the best things I've ever made have been for swaps, they often have a theme so it encourages you to try something new- and that's where the magic happens! Plus you will get something made just for you in return- how cool is that?

What are you stitching? Be a Social Stitcher and share in the &Stitches Flickr group!!. We'd love to see it!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Freaky Flowers Inspiration: Free Cross Stitch Pattern

I'm not actually participating in the Freaky Flowers swap but I'm still there in spirit with this Venus Fly Trap cross stitch pattern. I found myself going crazy looking at all the different flowers online and eventually just settled on a more "traditional" freaky flower.

When stitched on 14ct Aida your finished piece will be 5"x5". You can download the PDF here.

I hope you enjoy stitching it and if you do, please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Stitch Together: Learning from Older Generations

Stitch Together - &Stitches

In my efforts to improve and expand my embroidery and fiber art skills, I have found myself looking to previous generations to learn from their experience. These are stitchers who have been working with fiber arts for decades and have so much to share. However, it can be difficult to connect with these older fiber arts aficionados since they don't show up very often among my peer group or internet connections.

I have found a few great ways to find some of these older ladies and gents, though, through groups and events that you can likely find in your own areas.

The first place to look is your local fiber festivals. If you've never been to a fiber festival, you're in for a treat. These events generally take place in the summer and are a place to connect with pretty much every level of the fiber arts community. You'll find vendors of all sorts of fibery goods, livestock farmers with every fiber animal you could imagine (goats, rabbits, alpacas, sheep, and more!), and fiber arts groups looking for new members. It is through these fiber arts groups that I have been able to find quite a few extremely skilled and experienced stitchers from the previous generation.

Another resource is the state or county fair. This is a place where you'll find many of the same groups as the fiber festival, but with much more. The benefit here is that there is something at a state fair for everyone, so you can take along not-so-fiber-obsessed friends and family. For instance, while I gabbed away with the Portland Lace Society, my beekeeping boyfriend had a long chat with the Portland Beekeepers Club, so we each found something that interested us.

The last place I have looked for experienced stitches is the Society for Creative Anachronism. For the uninitiated, the SCA is an international club of Medieval historical reenactors with local guilds for virtually any artisanal craft you can imagine, including, of course, lots of fiber arts. This group spans many generations, so you're bound to find many experienced and dedicated stitchers in your local branch (and learn a new craft or two while you're at it).

I'd also like to share a couple of groups I have found for any of our Oregon-based readers. These organizations are full of wonderful people who have been very generous with their depth of knowledge.

Damascus Fiber Arts School: This is a resource for classes in all sorts of interesting fiber arts, many of which I hadn't even heard of before meeting this group.

Portland Lace Society: This group isn't specific to embroidery, but these ladies really know their stuff in a whole range of fiber arts, including lots of stitching.

I hope this inspires you to get out and meet some of the experienced older generations of stitchers in your community!

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!