Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sublime Stitching Review Part 2: Bib Kit

So I told you about the rad Sublime Stitching journal, and now it's on to the freaking adorable bib kit. The kit comes with two blank baby bibs, six reusable iron-on transfers, five skeins of embroidery floss, a needle and an instruction booklet.

The most noticeable thing about this kit is the packaging. Chronicle Books has book design and packaging down to a perfect art. The bib kit comes in a sweet box with a ribbon handle and would be perfect to hand off to a friend as a baby gift. (I mean, really, what better gift is there to give than a craft kit or craft class? Teach 'em to fish and all that, right!?)

Next up, the designs and the instruction booklet. I'm not going to give sneak peeks of all the designs, but I will say that they are some of my favorite Sublime Stitching designs I've seen. They are all pretty gender-neutral, and they are all sweet and clever (think snails, happy fruit and owls) The best part is that you can use the designs on any kind of project - not just bibs. For the most part, they aren't even exclusively baby or feeding related. The instruction book that comes in the kit is incredibly extensive for its size. It covers all the embroidery basics and five stitches that will totally have you covered for all the designs in the set.

I haven't been able to start stitching on the bibs yet (though I will be soon, I have a baby gift set I need to get working on) and I'm wondering if I'll need stabilizer. They are terry cloth bibs, so I'm not sure how much they will stretch. We'll see - I'll report back with any tips on that.

All in all, it's an adorable kit with some fab new designs. It would be a great baby shower gift, or a gift to yourself if you are expecting. Why, when we are pregnant, do we forget that we need to do something for ourselves and not just the baby? Get the kit, have fun stitching, and end up with something the kiddo can use ... doesn't get better than that.

Next up, I'll be talking about my favorite new Sublime Stitching product: The Stitchable Stationery. I'll also have a wee giveaway with it, so stick around!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The beauty of the backside

Sublime Stitching has just released some dandy little treats in the last couple of weeks, and I am in luuuuhhhv. I'm going to do some quick reviews of these new products in the next couple of days, so stitck around.
First up, I love this adorable pony journal. It's a perfect size for tossing in a purse or bag and carrying around, ready to capture any inspiration or random thoughts you may have. The front cover is a fantastic piece of Jenny's embroidery. Even better, the back cover is the back of the embroidery work. I love this so much, because it's kinda messy and there are knots galore.

I remember when I took a class from Jenny Hart a few years ago and how stunned - and liberated - I was to hear that she knots on the back of her work. (knotting is typically a big no-no among tradtional embroiderers) Somehow, this one revelation released my fear of imperfection and gave me new found motivation to get stitching.

Now when I'm teaching embroidery, I tell the students of learning about knotting with Jenny and proudly show off the backs of my embroidery - knots and all. I taught a class last week and had this journal with me, and was thrilled that I could finally also show the back of Jenny's work.

There is something darn liberating about seeing "imperfections" in the work of someone you admire. Actually, I don't think they are imperfections at all. I can appreciate that, ages ago, there was great pride taken in having the back of your embroidery match as closely as possible the front of your embroidery work. I understand that, in very few cases, knots in the back of your work may show through on the front side, and thus should be avoided. However, what I scoff at is the idea that knotting is simply "not allowed" in embroidery.

When I'm teaching embroidery, I want the students to feel comfortable stitching, and to leave class with no reservations about continuing to stitch on their own. Breaking down some of the "expectations" of embroidery can help them accomplish that. It gets them stitching faster and easier and helps them be more successful. In turn, they are more eager and willing to continuing stitching after the class.

How often has fear of imperfection stopped you from trying or completing a craft? It's time to cut that fear out! There's fun to be had in imperfection - embrace it, and you'll see what I mean. And that's what I love about this journal - aside from being incredibly practical with lined, blank and grid paper inside - the front cover reminds you how gorgeous and fun embroidery is, and the back cover reminds you to toss your preconceived notions of perfection out the window and get to stitchin'. That's a big, important lesson for such a small notebook, huh? ENJOY!

Next up - the Sublime Stitching Bib Kit, and I'll wrap things up with the Stitchable Stationery and the limited-edition canvas tote and ... a little giveaway. Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Why I haven't been able to wrap up the Portland Weekend

It's been two weeks since I left for Portland* for the Handmade Nation premiere and the PDXCraftgasm weekend. And though Diane, Lee, Susan, Pam, Kim, and more have written beautiful roundups of the weekend, I haven't been able to bring myself to.


Because then I just have to admit that it's all over, and that makes me crazy kinds of sad.

So here's my basic summary:

People-crafternoons-letterpress-japanese book store-blazers

people-crafternoons-letterpress-film-tiki drinks

people-crafternoons-letterpress-film-thai food-french toast-tiki bowl drinks

Clearly, the things that made the biggest impression on me over the weekend were the people - just some downright amazing folks. I got to see old friends, make new ones, and was constantly inspired. It was fun and exhausting and I need it to happen again. Very soon.

Since the people were so awesome on the trip, I'm going to do a few posts about them. I met the coolest people from across the country (literally!) and across the craft spectrum. All were kind, generous, creative and supportive, and they were all doing some really cool things. I think sharing some of that with you all will help you understand why I'm still - after two weeks - having a hard time adjusting back to reality. Stay tuned ....

* For once in my life, I was not camera happy and took very few pictures. I think that's a sure sign that I was too much in the moment to record the moments. I'm kicking myself now, though, so I'm borrowing pictures from the PDX Craftgasm Flickr pool. Thanks, lovelies. :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Baby Ike Auction Updates

Baby Ike and his family are still needing lots of help. There still aren't answers as to why he's having so many respiratory problems, and though he's home from the hospital, it still takes a small army of machines and helpers just to care for him.

Fortunately, the efforts to support the Roy family are not only still going strong, but they are growing in a big way right now. The big online auction started this week, and there are some amazing things up for grabs.

Sure, there are awesome things like vacations in England, Cancun and Oregon and things like massages, landscaping services and photographer services, but I've gotta say that I'm crazy proud of all the beautiful hand-crafted items that are included in the auction. Here's a sampling of what you can find. Bidding is already well underway, so don't hesitate in getting over there and getting in on the action. And also let these generous folks know how much you appreciate their efforts.

I love this adorable purse from Jennifer Tanner McGuire from BlueMama here in Austin. It's knit from plastic bags and is fully lined with sweet black floral fabric. What's even better is that the purse comes stoked full of fun accessories from Jennifer, including earrings, magnets, button rings, and luxurious lip balms that she makes herself.

Check out this sweet half apron from Chasity of Belle and Burger (also here in Austin). The colors are so gorgeous, and the sweet bird applique is made from a vintage quilt piece. I'm tellin' you guys, I tried this puppy on the other night and it almost didn't make it's way in to the auction ... She's also offered up some cute fabric and button hair clips and one of her vintage fabric and buttons brooch.

This baby set with an Asain theme is gorgeous. The sweet kimono and baby booties are precious and the burp cloths are so beautiful you may not want to get them dirty! These came from Liz Alma.

The details on this cloth art doll are amazing - there's some incredible beadwork going on on this thing! The doll was made by Iggy Jingles in California.

Feast your eyes on this stinkin' cute kid's knit aviator hat from Beth Rayburn! I want one in my size!

Can you say "HOLY COW, THAT'S GORGEOUS?" Good! 'Cause that's what you'll want to say when you take a gander at this amazing knit shawl. Wow.Za.

These are just a few of the gorgeous handmade items being offered in the auction. I love that they have not only been donated out of generosity, but have the love and care of each of the donors in every stitch. So cool! Please check them out, bid if you can, pass it on to friends and share the love! Go Ike!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Letterpress dream come true

I've just returned from an awesome weekend in Portland, Oregon where I attended the northwest premier of Handmade Nation and cavorted with some of the most awesome crafters for three days. It was heaven. I'll have a full report on the Craftgasm (as it was called) weekend, but for now I have to share one of the most special things that happened while I was in Portland.

On Saturday, my friend, Sarah, took me up to the Pacific Northwest College of Art where she's taking a continuing education class on letterpress. You see, I've had an obsession with letterpress for almost 20 years, yet I've never been able to actually get my hands on type and a press to try it myself. Sarah was kind enough to take me up to the print studio and I was able to watch her work on her awesome project, and then got to create my own very first letterpress project.

Wowza. I have to say that digging through drawers of wood and lead type, going through ideas of what to print and managing the logistics of actually getting the typeset was .... amazing. It felt like something I've been meant to do my whole life. Not to sound to profound about it, but it was just an incredibly zen experience.

I have to give huge thanks to Sarah for helping me fulfill this big dream of mine. I can't wait to get my hands on more type and a press very.very.soon.