Thursday, July 3, 2008

My summer sampler
(and a little red, white & blue)

Today I did something I needed terribly: I stitched for pure fun. I've been kinda stressed these last couple of weeks (and the next few will probably be a bit crazy, too) and I really needed something to calm my brain a little bit. Nothing does that quite as well as embroidery.

The kids and I loaded up and went to an indoor playnasium. They had a warehouse full of moonbouncers, and I had WiFi and embroidery. We were all pretty much in heaven. I wound some bobbins of floss (my stash is getting seriously messy) browsed some blogs and got to stitchin'. It was perfect.

One of my goals for the summer is to learn some new stitches. I dearly love the good ole back stitch, split, stem and blanket, but I decided I wanted to branch out a little bit and challenge myself to learn some new ways to work my needle. I hit Needle 'N Thread to see some of Mary's awesome video stitch tutorials, and I dug out a cool little Coats and Clark stitch booklet that I picked up at Ginger's Needlearts when we went there to see Jenny Hart. Between those two resources, I had more than enough new stitches from which to chose.

My summer sampler is stitching on one of my Obama screen prints. The first prints I did with that stencil were on a drop cloth that had been used for previous classes. One effect that I loved of these initial prints was that red stars that had been printed on the reverse side of the fabric and ended up framing his face perfectly. I sketched a border around the print and decided I'd just fill the sucker with some of my random new stitches, and that I'd outline the stars to make them stand out more.

So far, I've toyed with the fern stitch (which I worked getting gradually larger as I went ... can't remember if that was on purpose) and the scalloped chain and I've done some couching (first time!)

Today, I watched Mary's video for the checkered chain stitch - a chain stitch that has two colors of floss working on the needle and ends up with alternating colors of chain links. It was so much fun! I goofed on the first chain link, but got it down after that. Sadly, I didn't have more of the same colors I'd been using on the rest of the piece with me, so the colors are a little off. I'll likely be removing the stitches and re-doing them, but for now it was a fun learning opportunity.

I also picked up what is probably my new favorite stitch - the chained feather stitch. It was in the Coats booklet, and it is awesome. It's a lot easier than it looks, and it has such a cool effect. I love love love the feather stitch, and seeing it with the little "buds" of the chains just makes me giddy.

I'll be working on this piece off and on all summer long. It's going to be my juicy summer novel that I turn to when things get to stressful. I can't wait to see how it turns out, and even if it looks goofy or like I've vomited every crazy stitch I can find on to it, I don't really care. I'm having a lot of fun, and darn if that isn't my favorite thing to do.

What fun summer crafting are you doing these days?

NOTE: Click on through the pictures to see my notes in Flickr


  1. How patriotic! What are you going to do with the finished piece?

    Around here, it's the summer of baby crafts. She's so small, it's really quick to sew/knit for her. And that's how it should be, considering the amount of sleep I'm (not) getting. :)

  2. So happy that you're getting to do something FUN with those talented hands! It's a freakin' intense summer in so many ways...

    I can't wait until you can come make in our new space.

    Hang in there baby, September's comin'... happy 4th.

    PS: I have your Obama stencil! I showed it to my class last night as a primo example of what can be done with a humble piece o' Tyvek. It's yours whenever you need it, sister.

  3. Your sampler is really fantastic, Rach... It has an almost "outsider art" quality to it. If you know what I mean.

  4. All work and no play... GLAD YOU'Re having FUN! Fun- good! Stress- bad! It is summer vacation after all. ;-) It looks absolutely beautiful!!!! (Go Obama! My kids made a Obama Winner Clubhouse yesterday- and I swear I'm not trying to brainwash them)

  5. This is super-cool, and it'll be amazing when it's done. But - more importantly, a nice bit of creative process to give you some much-needed downtime this summer. Possibly, you could bring it with you when you come to PDX later this month so that friends could see it in person . . . I'm just sayin. :-)

  6. looks SO fun! Glad you got some time to decompress. :)

  7. I've been reading your blog for a couple of weeks now, and am just wondering where I might buy one of your Obama screen prints. I love seeing all of your wonderful works in progress! Thank you for the eye candy.


  8. Oh wow, Rach! These new stitches are fab! Learning new stitches has been on my "To Do" list for a while, and I think you've inspired me to take the plunge.

    Currently I'm working on a cowboy tea towel for my mom's birthday next Friday. :)

  9. I'm working on Jack Crap, despite an unfinished knitting project, an unfinished embroidery project, and an unfinished sewing project. I suck.

  10. Beautiful work - I love those stitches, especially the checkered chain stitch.
    I'm working on finishing a napkin and placemat set for a Bend the Rules swap...and I'm nearly done with a pair of knitted socks.
    Hang in there during your busy month!

  11. Man, you have the most adorable projects...I love this! I need to give needlecraft another try.

  12. Fun stitching is always such a treat. If you do a lot of stitching for a living, it can take some of the fun out of it at times. Your sampler is looking fantastic, I'm loving the colours!

  13. I love your summer sampler - what a great idea. I've been doing some embroidery lately with such a limited number of stitches. A sampler would be such a fun way to learn and practice; love the idea of choosing a seasonal theme.


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