Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More on the Moon: VOTE NOW.

Space + Craft = Awesome from Rachel Hobson on Vimeo.

Photos of the embroidery by sweet Jote

Just more than a week ago, I was crushed to find out that my High Texture Hand Embroidery of the Moon had not made the first cut in the NASA/Etsy Space Craft contest. I realized it was an opportunity to remember exactly why I started the project in the first place, and I've truly delighted in sharing the inspiration, information and stitch "education" behind the project over the last week. Thanks so much for your incredibly kind words and thoughtful support.

So I was very stunned to get news today that there was an apparent technical glitch in the way entries were culled from the Etsy listings for that first round of voting. And now, my Moon embroidery is eligible for voting. That's right, folks .... there's still a chance this puppy could fly in space.

I'm still trying to fully understand what happened, and I have to admit, it feels a little weird (I assure you I never contacted Etsy about not making the cut - I was over it, and had just gotten down to enjoying sharing the project here.) but I can't let that keep me from asking you to vote and spread the word.

You'll have to register with Etsy to vote, but it truly takes just a minute or two. Here are some resources for you in case you'd like to easily share the piece with friends to ask them to vote. Blog it, tweet it, Facebook it - whatever. I appreciate your support. The top 20 vote-getters (and this includes those who were voted on before the glitch was discovered) will go back to judges for the final call on the winner.

Wow. Just ... wow.
Now, uhhhh - go vote! And be sure to check out all the folks who are included in this second round, including my pal Jen whose rad needle felted Hubble Telescope was included this time! Hurrah!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

More on the Moon: The stitches used in the project

Before I started working on the Moon project, most of what I stitched was super simple. My fallback stitch is the good 'ole backstitch, and most of the designs I've stitched are straight up line drawings with little filled in. That's one reason I was particularly drawn to Sharon's Sumptuous Surfaces class. I was really intrigued by the depth and text she creates in her pieces, and wanted to see how my style might work with those techniques.

Sharon guided us through designing our pieces and shared a variety of stitches for us to incorporate as we wanted to. Her online stitch dictionary is incredibly extensive, and each week she'd usually share some new stitch in our class materials. I also used Mary Corbet's valuable video library of stitches as a point of reference. Below, I'll list the stitches I used in this project. (hint: I saved the best for last) The great thing is that most of them are incredibly simple stitches that you likely already know or can learn easily. I'm listing each stitch and then, in parentheses*, I'll list links to various online resources where you can learn the stitch on your own. On this picture and this picture (on Flickr) I've noted what most of the stitches are (as best I can). Let me know if you have any questions! Please note that in this post, not all the pictures are matched up perfectly with their stitch information, so don't let that confuse you.
*The Web sites referenced are as follows:

Stem Stitch (In a Minute Ago) (Needle 'n Thread) - The stem stitch is one of my all-time favorite stitches. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but once Leslie showed me a little trick on getting started, I was hooked. Once you get going with the stem stitch - especially if you are using the sewing method - it works up very quickly and stitches in a beautifully rhythmic cadence. Stem stitch is often seen as an outline stitch, but it also makes a gorgeous filling. I worked rows of stem stitch to fill large areas, working left to right and then flipping my work and working back down the line so the stitches ended up kind of interlocking as they went (though not perfectly all the time. ;) When worked with pearl (perle) cotton, it takes on an entirely new texture that is divine.

Chain Stitch (In a Minute Ago) (Needle 'n Thread) - I have to admit, I used to not be a very big fan of the chain stitch. It took me a while to get the hang of it, and I was used to working it with pretty large, open stitches. I decided to try tightening up the stitch to use as a nice, textural filling and quickly changed my opinion of the chain stitch. I became obsessive, challenging myself to make the stitches as tiny as I possibly could. I particularly delighted in stitching the chain in size 12 (read: tiny) pearl cotton.

Satin Stitch (In a Minute Ago) (Sublime Stitching) The only part of the project where I used the satin stitch was on Tycho. It was technically a "padded" satin stitch, because I first outlined the shape of the area with split stitch and then laid the satin stitch down over that, giving it a bit more volume.

Split Stitch (In a Minute Ago) (Needle 'n Thread) Most of the split stitch I did on this project is covered in satin stitch (see above) but there are a few areas where I worked rows upon rows of split stitch for filling.

Portuguese Stem Stitch (Pin Tangle) (Needle 'n Thread) The main part where the Portuguese Stem Stitch is used is in the outline of the moon. It created the perfect, knobby edge to the moon. I love when I look through my telescope at the very edges of the moon. They always appear so textural as they edge off into the blackness of space. This stitch did a nice job of capturing that.

French Knot (In a Minute Ago) (Needle 'n Thread) (Sublime Stitching) I love love love love love love love French Knots. Once I mastered them (thanks, Jenny!) they quickly hit the top of my list of favorite stitches. I went French knot crazy on this piece. There are sections where I packed French knots on top of French knots and just luxuriated in their texture. I used different kinds of threads to beef up the texture even more.

Bullion Knot (In a Minute Ago) (Needle 'n Thread) Bullion knots have always kind of intimidated me, and I have to admit I'm still not 100% comfortable with them. Mary's video helped me get the hang of them, though, and I used them sparingly in this piece. I want to play with them a little bit more, because I've seen some really fun applications of bullion knots that I'd love to try ...

Buttonhole Wheels (In a Minute Ago) (Needle 'n Thread) Buttonhole wheels are incredibly fun and addictive. They make great flowers, are graphic and easy to work up.

This is the first buttonhole wheel cup I ever stitched! The start of something wonderful ...

Buttonhole Wheel Cup (Pin Tangle) This has become, by far, my all-time favorite stitch. This was one of the first new stitches Sharon B shared with us during the Sumptuous Surfaces class, and as soon as I saw it, I knew it would be a perfect stitch for the craters on my Moon. Sharon's instructions and photographs are very clear and easy to understand. Essentially, you are working a button hole wheel and then working buttonhole stitches in to the ridge of the wheel. You can work as many rows as you like, and the more you add, the higher up the ridges of the "cup" will stand. When I worked this stitch with a fine pearl cotton (size 12) and added at least three rows to the "cup" it produced the most fantastically gnarly craters. Give them a try!

One of the coolest things about this project is how dense the stitching became. I'm used to my projects staying fairly light and simple, but when I took this one off the hoop, I was stunned by how .... heavy it was it was thick and substantial. I loved that!

It's easy to look at a project like this and think, "holy smokes! So complicated!" but hopefully when you see the stitches broken down above you can see that it's all actually simple and well within your reach.

If you missed the first couple of posts in this series, check them out here:
Space + Craft (still) = Awesome
More on the Moon: Sharon B's Sumptuous Surfaces Class

Up next in my series of moon posts (sick of 'em yet? too bad! ;) is more about the moon and why it makes me ... swoon!

Monday, November 15, 2010

More on the Moon - Sharon B's Sumptuous Surfaces Embroidery Class

This is a follow-up post about my high texture hand embroidery of the moon. It was a massive project, so it deserves a few posts. Today, I'll cover the class in which I started the project. :)

Last spring, I took an online class from Sharon B of Pin Tangle that was called Sumptuous Surfaces. I've followed Sharon's blog for a very long time, and while my stitching style was quite different than her work, I was really intrigued by her class offering. I was ready to challenge myself and try something new in my embroidery.

Our first assignment was to create a 4"X6" monochromatic piece. Because the moon makes me swoon (no really, the first time I looked at the moon through my telescope, I started to cry) I decided it would be a perfect subject for monochromatic, high texture embroidery.

I fell terribly behind on the project, though, and as other students zoomed right into their second projects (a full-color piece) I slowly but surely stitched away at my moon. It traveled with me to California, Colorado, New York and was with me in several embroidery classes and Stitch 'n Bitch evenings. I've never worked so hard or so long on a project.

I've also never used so much embroidery floss on a project! The black sky portion alone used two full skeins of floss each of black and a steel gray color. It was crazy! Types of thread used include stranded cotton embroidery floss, pearl cotton, rayon and silk. I hadn't stitched with pearl cotton much before, and Sharon encouraged us to try lots of different kinds of threads. I have a lot (I mean ... a lot) of stranded cotton embroidery floss, and most of it was stuff I got through various jobs. I decided to take a trip to Ginger's Needle Arts here in Austin and treat myself to lots of yummy new threads. I went a little nuts, but I didn't care. I was able to get some great stuff and support a local business. Score!

This project made me fall in love with pearl cotton. I wasn't sure how I would like it, but after using all sizes and a couple of brands (DMC and Anchor) I was sold. Big time. The pearl cotton just adds a whole other layer of texture to the stitches that is loads of fun to play with.

I also wasn't sure how doing an embroidery class online would work, but it turned out to be great fun. Sharon was a great instructor who clearly put a ton of effort and planning in to the class. Each week, we had a lengthy downloadable lesson and an active online forum in which we posted pictures, asked questions and got feedback from classmates and Sharon. It worked out great, and it was a lot of fun to see everyone's work progress and interact with people all over the world, as well as one person who was right here in Austin with me. All in all, the class was a truly fun and inspiring experience, and I can't wait to take another one from Sharon soon!

In my previous post, I explained this project, my passion for space and moving on past disappointment. In my next post, I'll highlight the various stitches I used in the project! Stay tuned ...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Space + Craft (still) = Awesome.

All the photos in this post were taken by my good friend
and all-around awesome human being,


Apparently there was a glitch in the way Etsy pulled tagged entries for the contest, and it turns out that now my embroidered Moon is up for voting! Go vote and tell your friends! Thank you so much!

This should have been a different post. I'd hoped I'd be posting a request for help to vote for the embroidery I created above for a chance to help it possibly fly in space. A few weeks ago, NASA and Etsy announced their Space Craft contest. My heart started beating out of my chest as I read the contest details, which include a possible opportunity to have your handmade item fly in space on board one of the final space shuttle flights. (heck - is wasn't just a high heart rate I experienced. When I read the part about flying the object in space, I got totally choked up!)

This is my high texture hand embroidery of the moon that I entered in the contest. I'll fill you in on the specifics of the project soon and will share some great space and embroidery resources as well. What I'd hoped I'd be doing this weekend was spreading the word far and wide that I'd made it to round 2 of the contest where folks would have the opportunity to vote for their favorite space-inspired hand-made item. I won't lie, while I wasn't arrogant enough to think I might win this whole thing, I did feel confident I would at least make it to the voting round, and I was prepared to work my backside off to spread the word for voting. My good friend, Becky, even helped me make a nice little video giving some insight into why I was so passionate about the contest. Maybe I jinxed myself, but hey - when you want something badly, you want to "bring it" and I was fully prepared to "bring it" in a big way.

Space + Craft (still) = Awesome (even if I didn't make the vote cut)
from Rachel Hobson on Vimeo.
(ignore the "vote for me" portion of the video ;) Thanks, Becky! )

I was not prepared to not have the chance to bring it. And when the voting opened last night, and I quickly realized I hadn't made the cut ... I was crushed. I commiserated with good friend and fellow Spacetweep, Jen, whose amazing needle felted Hubble Space Telescope also didn't make the cut in her category, and there were several very kind people on Twitter who shared some lovely words about my embroidery. That helped, but I have to admit I was very disappointed and deflated.

It wasn't just the opportunity to "win" a contest I was excited about. Absolutely, I was thrilled (to tears) about the idea of something I made flying in space, but more than that, I was excited for the opportunity to share my two biggest passions - space and craft - with a wider audience. I was excited to share resources with people, get folks who might not be fired up about space to get interested in it and to hopefully inspired people who would never consider picking up a needle and thread to do so. I was excited about the chance to connect and share with more people.

I decided I needed to lay off the social media early last night, and started to watch a great documentary on the Apollo program instead. As I watched, my heart filled with excitement once more and I was reminded why I spent so much time on this project; why I stitched craters until I had calluses on my fingertips, why I took the piece with me everywhere I went so I could stitch at any given opportunity, why I delighted in sharing the subject matter with anyone who was gracious enough to ask about it.

It wasn't because of the contest, it was because of the Moon. And space. And embroidery. And the pure joy that these things bring to me. And I can't let what a random handful of judges think of my work keep me from loving these things and sharing them with other people.

And so that's exactly what I'm going to do. Over the next few days, I'll be sharing more background information on this project. It was my most massive embroidery undertaking to date, and I fell madly in love with it. I'll share information about the class in which I started the project, some of the stitches I used, some of the threads I used and more information about the moon and why I love it so much. I've also set up a page of embroidery and space links in case I've inspired anyone to explore these two passions of mine. If you have any questions about either subject, just let me know and I'll do my best to answer them in the follow up posts.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Space and Embroidery - you can do it!

As you know, I'm a huge space geek, and my craft of choice is hand embroidery. I truly believe both subjects have a lot to offer in terms of education, creativity, innovation and inspiration. Because I'm also a big internet junkie, I've collected loads of resources that will help you explore both subjects. Enjoy!

Hand Embroidery Resources

Classes - I can't tell you how many times I've had a student in one of my embroidery classes say how much of a difference it makes to have someone, in person, show them how to do hand embroidery. Do yourself a favor and check out your local sewing or craft studios to see about trying a hand embroidery class.

Sublime Stitching - Jenny Hart has a lot of great patterns and tutorials on her web site. They are a great place to get started and are a lot of fun to stitch.

Needle 'n Thread - Mary Corbet is a master of embroidery, and provides some excellent tutorials and great how-to videos on her web site.

The CRAFT embroidery archives are filled with all kinds of great inspirational projects and how-tos.

Mr. X-Stitch is a great site for modern embroidery. Lots of interesting and fun stuff!

Pin Tangle - from Sharon B. I started this moon embroidery project in Sharon's Sumptuous Surfaces class.

The Flickr Embroidery Group offers loads of great inspiration and a great, supportive embroidery community.

The Flickr Embroidery Group Blog - Feeling Stitchy

Space Resources

NASA - NASA has done a great job of reaching out to folks through social media. Their Twitter feed is great, many astronauts are now on Twitter (some even tweet from space!) and their "following" list is filled with many must-follows on Twitter.

NASA TV - If you are lucky enough to have NASA TV on your cable line-up, be sure to check it out regularly. Even if you can't watch it on your television, you can watch it online. Watching NASA TV during a shuttle mission is especially exciting. It blows my mind to think that we can watch a spacewalk taking place *live* more than 200 miles above our heads. If we can, we should.

Space Tweep Society - This group has been huge in my connecting with loads of interesting, kind, supportive and enthusiastic space geeks on Twitter and beyond. I've made great friends, learned tons and have really enjoyed this community.

collectSPACE.com - Robert Pearlman has an incredible wealth of knowledge on all things related to the history of the space program. Members of the collectSPACE community are active, supportive and very knowledgeable. (and just darn cool)

Astronomy Picture of the Day - sometimes you just need some quick, visual inspiration. APOD is a great place for that!

And for more gorgeous inspiration, check out the Hubble web site.

These links are just a sampling of some of the great online resources for hand embroidery and space exploration. Consider them a jumping off point, and feel free to fall into these favorite obsessions of mine. :)