Consider this tea towel your warning!

Alert! Alert! Durham has been over run with lunatic squirrels!  I see the seething monsters lurking in the shadows on my morning jogs, plotting to take me down and pierce my throat with that single sharp fang.

Plotting your doom with their dead eyes.

Let this tea towel serve as a public service announcement. Because nothing says, "Run for Your Life, Fool!" like red gingham, no?

Stitched this up as a little wedding gift for the talented Monique (she designed my blog banner!) and her new husband Dan, a ridiculously cute, cool couple. The kind of people you'd hate if they weren't so genuinely warm.

Chain stitch in variegated Valdani cotton thread, color M26.

Monique's family is from The Netherlands, so I clearly identified the deranged animal in Dutch, with the help of master stitcher/blogger/designer Nicole of Follow the White Bunny and &Stitches fame. (Be sure to follow Nicole on Twitter, too. She is a generous tweeter about her creative process!)

Long-armed Feather Stitch border.

"De Getikte Eekhoorn van Durham." Sounds even more terrifying in Dutch, doesn't it? People who think Germans have the scariest words for the most innocuous things need to plumb the depths of the freaking Dutch language. Ja! We're talking Biblical, medieval woodcut scary.

Can gingham ever be stitched into without irony? 

Hmmm... Perhaps average adults don't fear gingham, squirrels or the Dutch language. Screw average and take cover. De Getikte Eekhoorn is out there, mofos.

Tiny Great Curve... a bit more fill stitch

Playing with different fill stitches on my Tiny Great Curve.

The finished piece will only be 4x6".

This weekend I've done a bit more chain stitch, some wrapped back stitch, blanket stitch and button hole stitch. This is a great little experimentation project just for me!

And now, Saturday night beckons...

Experiment: Twisted silk strands, a hexagram and a bit of linen

I love the messiness of the silk against
the tight weave of the linen.

Naomi (of the fabulous blog String Geekery) gave me two hanks of raw silk attached to some strips of fabric in deep reds. It was given to her to incorporate into her amazing spinning, but the colors aren't right for her. The deep reds and burgundies make me giddy.

The strands get wrapped up in my fingers.

Early this morning I stretched out the tangled hanks and cut of a few strands. I found a bit of linen in my stash. I wanted to play.

The feel like the softest hair.

 I used the I Ching strictly as a pattern creator and threw coins to come up with this simple series of six lines to stitch. (This is not spiritual guide for me, although I like the poetry of hexagram names: this hexagram is K'un, oppression/exhaustion.)

On a pile of textures.

It was like stitching with human hair. I loved the way the strands bunched and knotted. Very different from the factory-perfect pearl cotton I usually stitch with. 

Now I want to try more unusual (for me) threads. And I have two questions for you, stitch artitsts:

What are your favorite threads to stitch with?
What pattern generators do you employ?

Please be generous!

My heart cannot take it

Do Not Flake on Me is done, sent and delivered to the Northern California stitch artist Lisa Leggett as part of the Phat Quarter Spring Swap from MrXStitch.

Do Not Flake on Me, 2012

It was great fun to stitch up another "Do Not" embroidery. I've written here before about how much I love taking the hard graphics of hazard signs and turning them into soft stitch. This piece reminded me how much that aesthetic appeals to me.

Do Not Flake on Me snugged up to Do Not Enter, 2010.

Yes, it's a snowflake and a prohibition circle. I have come to hate the cold. Living alone for the first time in my life, I negotiated the darkness and chill of my first winter by myself in the world. It was hard. Even though this was a mild winter, I spend far too much time shivering, wrapped up in an electric blanket in my poorly insulated apartment.

My simple sketch.

As I was stitching the piece I wished that the cold, dark nights of winter be gone, both literally and figuratively.  Let it be Spring again and, dare I say it, Summer. Let there be warmth in the air and in my heart. Let there be music and friendship. To much heartbreak in recent years. Let the winter be gone.

Thick red fill stitch surrounded by fine gauged chain stitch. 

And it is gone. There is warmth, again. A fragile warmth, but it's building. And the warmth is coming from me. I am making it for myself, with the help of my friends and family. And I am hopeful. 

Books & Stitches is out!

Issue 2 of the fabulous stitching ezine &Stitches just came out and Nicole & Carina have outdone themselves with this one.

I love the theme of books and stitching. In particular I enjoy the tutorial from Jessica Kelly of Paper Stitch who makes lovely pieces of art with embroidery and vintage books. I have purchased Jessica's artwork for a gift and I'm the proud owner of a piece. Check out her etsy shop.

I've been a huge fan of Nicole & Carina since I first started stitching and they used to blog for Feeling Stitchy. I remember being particularly taken with a gorgeous piece Nicole made for a Phat Quarter music swap last year featuring her take on Ophelia.

Ophelia, 2011, by Nicole Vas van Avezathe

I could not have been more thrilled when Nicole asked me to contribute to the second issue of the ezine! My piece takes a more art than craft approach to embroidery and finding inspiration in art galleries and exhibition catalogs.

So please check out the newest issue. And tell your friends!

Chaos, bolts & chain stitch

There are many stitchers who favor neat, even stitches. While I admire the fineness of orderly stitching in other people's work, I must admit that I like a little more chaos in mine.

Silver chain stitch for my thunder bolt.

And I love using chain stitch--heavy and uneven--as a fill stitch.

I adore layering and piling the rows of chains next to each other, as I've done in this thunderbolt for a cotton camisole I've made for myself. More photos of the finished work, soon. I feel like a 1970s superhero in this design. Like a Girl Thunder.

A little red, chain stitch outline.

More Spirograph tanks for me

Detail, stitching through Sulky Solvy.

My retro obsession continues unabated (just like the "domestication of the dog," to quote Homer Simpson) and I've been stitching myself spirographs. Lots of spirographs.

Me outside my office.
(Thanks, Jess, for taking the photo!)

Sporting a double, pink and orange spirograph on a navy cotton camisole to go along with the red one I stitched on a black cami. My new summer uniform.

Pearle cotton in pink and orange.

I think I got back into Spirographs last summer when I met a guy who had a spirograph-esque tattoo on this inside of his wrist. I love the elegance of the loops and the throwback feel.

Feels like Summer.

Now I've started a new camisole with a special image on it inspired by my squeeze... And I'm back to my word stitching project. AND I'm excited about the new Phat Quarter swap I'm sign up for from MrXStitch. I'm geeked about the piece I'm designing on the theme of Spring for the fabulous Lisa who blogs at A Cuppa Tea With Me. It is a mashup of sorts.

Go, stitching!

Sweetie darling & 70s retro mashup

Going through a 1970s nostalgia phase. Spirographs, Twister, Barry Gibbs' tight white pants and sexy Jesus mane... and woodgrain fabric. Can't get enough of woodgrain fabric.

I like the knot under the "i."

Made my girl Keefie this little "sweetie darling" hooped action on some precious woodgrain cotton.

"Sweetie darling" comes from Absolutely Fabulous. Back in the 2000s, Keefie and I drank vodka gimlets and fought off the boys together. And we loved those ill-behaved English women, Patsy and Edina, from AbFab. We were each other's sweetie darlings.

The stars are star stitch. Convenient.

A 1970s image involving Keefie... her family being evacuated from Tehran when the Shah was overthrown. I envision helicopters taking off at twilight, filled with tanned, bell-bottomed Americans in 22k gold jewelry.  And for some reason, in my fantasy, the Eagles' Hotel California is playing in background, pierced by the chopping roar of the helicopter blades. Coppola is slated to direct my reverie.

Go figure.

Keefie (left) & me at a recent Caps v. Caines game.

Spirographs, Star Fox & other small stitching

After pulling a week's work of dense, little stitches from my Tiny Great Curve piece (which was heartbreaking by necessary), I've been making small, fun things this week.

Stitching a spirograph though Sulky Solvy.
Red pearle cotton, chain stitch.

Turned one of my zillions of summer cotton camisoles into an ode to the fabulous spirograph my my youth.

I want to embellish all of my little summer tanks!

Stitched up a set of thick, Pottery Barn dinner napkins into an ode to 1990 computer game catchphrases. (Star Fox is the cutest thing!)

Love the playful language in these crazy phrases.

I'm really enjoying this simple, happy stitching! Making little gifts for myself and my lovely peeps. More of these little stitched odes to come.

Playtime has just begun!

Summer beckons... warmth, friends, books, bootcamp, zumba (with Kate and Katherine), art, stitching, trips (DC with Juline and Miami with SF)... life is full of joys.

In a war, someone has to die

So said a temporarily out-of-work professional African soldier. So heard Danish artist Hanne Bang, who was inspired by a television news interview she saw with the soldier to create a collaborative, stitched art project titled, "In a War Someone has to Die." 

Stitched handkerchiefs. Foreground, Katherine,
background, me.

Bang is collecting embroidered handkerchiefs from stitchers around the world, each inscribed with the soldier's line in her/his own language. She will sew these handkerchiefs together to form a large installation artwork later this year.

I heard about the project on the MrXStitch site. My friend Katherine and I decided to participate. We each stitched up the line in Spanish. Spanish is my mother's first language and I had her write it out for me in her beautiful, strange handwriting. I used a brightly colored new handkerchief and chain stitch.

My handkerchief in chain stitch with little stitched flowers.

Katherine is bilingual, having learned Spanish while in Honduras in the Peace Corps. Her husband is Honduran and she uses Spanish professionally in her social work career. She stitched it up on a vintage handkerchief in backstitch. (Interestingly, Katherine's mother's first language is German. I wonder if she ever considered doing it in German.)

Katherine used a vintage linen.

I love the way that the artist's experience with the news media lead to this art project. To me it shows how being open to stories and news from around the world can inspire huge, collaborative projects.

Imagine the scene: A reporter and a camera person interview a professional African soldier for a Danish news program. The segment is viewed by the Danish artist back in Europe. She is moved by the coldness of the soldier's words and she plays with the feelings and associations that the news story stirs in her.

Brightly colored pink cotton.

Bang then reaches out to the stitching community, online and in her physical surroundings, and we all are pulled into the creation. My mother, who has no other connection to the professional soldier, the unknown reporter or the Danish artist, writes out this sentence at her kitchen table. And she is disturbed by the words her daughter stitches. But she is used to me and she is game.

My mami's handwriting.

Read more about Bang's work here.

Un petit lapin for Katherine

Stitched this little sleeping bunny for my dear friend Katherine's birthday.

Stitched in pearle cotton, displayed in 3" hoop.

Katherine is an animal lover and actually has a pet rabbit that she rescued from a random parking lot. (What a white, pink-eyed bunny was doing alone in a parking lot is not known.)

Katherine is an amazing woman. She spins, knits, wet and needle felts (my favorite pin cushion is a geode that she wet felt for me), among other crafts. She is the fastest talker of anyone I've ever known, and that is saying a lot, because I'm from NYC. She is also the fastest knitter in the world. One moment she is buying the perfect skein of robin's egg blue yarn and then next she is wearing some insanely beautiful, intricate, finger-weight lace shawl.  How does she do this?!

He makes me think of my late dog Django
when he was a puppy and slept in a ball.

Happy birthday, sweet Katherine! Thank you for letting me into your life and being such a generous, caring soul. Friendship is not just about fun and games and telling entertaining stories. It's about sharing ourselves, the good and the bad, and spending time together, learning from each other. Katherine gets this. Others don't always.

Love you, cupcake!

Adventures in NYC, Part 3, Stitching & Purple

Can we talk thread? Can we talk floss?

Detail of Tiny Great Curve, chain stitch in Valdani 12,
color  2 (charcoal).

While in NYC, I did venture out of Brooklyn and spent a glorious bit of time at Purl Soho, feasting on the threads and flosses.

Koigu wool needlepoint yarns.

The fabrics were wonderful, too (especially their collection of Liberty of London) but there are decent quilt shops in NC. The flosses and threads... those are harder to find.

Liberty of London fabrics, hooped near the door.

I can and do order threads online, but being able to paw through silk thread and bin after bin of Valdani 12 in every conceivable color in person... that is a special treat. And their collection of embroidery-worthy linens is not to be missed.

Wanted to spin this DMC cotton wheel!

Bought myself a collection of Valdani in greys and purples for my Tiny Great Curve self portrait. It is pleasure to stitch with this. I also treated myself to a spool of Trebizond twisted silk in a lilac for highlights on my latest piece.

Some of my supplies for the latest piece.

I didn't purchase any of the Liberty of London fabric because I'm anxious about money and storage in my apartment, but I did spend a little time fondling the bolts. I wasn't alone! Another woman was standing next to me, doing the same thing. "It's like silk," she said. And I nodded eagerly.

These bolts called to me. And to other fabricphiles.

Since being home I've been doing a fair amount of stitching and playing ideas. Making progress on my Tiny Great Curve piece. Still stitching words galore. Generally feeling very upbeat and creative. 

WIP, current state of Tiny Great Curve.

I only wish I could make it to Fiber Philadephia this weekend. The exhibitions of textile art look like they are going to be amazing! Alas, funds won't allow this. 

Leaving Purl Soho in my purple beret.

I think that the purple ground fabric of my latest piece has made me a little fixated on purple. I keep wearing a purple hat. And these beautiful purple hydrangeas are a constant source of inspiration.

From my squeeze. Excellent taste.

I keep them close to me, next to my laptop, in my tiny little bay window space, surrounded in my collection of Pantone color post cards.

Purple, floss, silk, art, time with Erin's beautiful family, stitch-speration, handwritten notebooks and marginalia, and stitching. These are all things that NYC gave to me on this visit. Will get back very soon. 

My Lips, Stitched, Part 1

So, here is another take on self portraiture. These are my lips.

My lips, stitched.

The outline of the lips is chain stitch and the textured fill lines are in a combination of back stitch and chain stitch, in pearle cotton 5, 8 and 12. Had so much fun stitching this up, that I'm going to stitch up another pair and play with the textured stitches even more, trying different flosses, colors and line stitches. I love the idea of layering line stitches (feather, chain, etc.) to create a heavily embroidered surface.

I am truly happy stitch nerd... This is fun to me!

The world's cutest gnomina, Maeve!

Speaking of fun, headed to NYC this weekend to hang with my girl Erin and my beautiful, little gnomina, Maeve, seen here wearing a yellow kimono sweater I knit for her and the special gnome booties I made, too.

Lots of stitch-speration awaits!

A tiny portrait of my bare back

Working on little something just for me.

Self portrait.

This is a tiny version of my Great Curve design, stitched on pale plum Kona cotton. I'm using stem stitch and 310 pearle cotton floss. Pushing myself to get better at stem stitch, which I think is an elegant outline stitch that I've never been confident doing.

Word by Becky Wagoner, writing by me.
Love architectural terms so send me some!

I'm still collecting and stitching words like a banshee. I love the variety and themes of words that you're all giving to me. Thank you and please keep them coming!

Before taking a stitch.

Been working a lot at my corporate day job and I'm feeling weary. Siting in a beige cube, staring a a computer all day has lead to a strange feeling of disconnect from my body. This little portrait of my naked back is a reminder that my stiff shoulders and back have a shape and curve to them.

I'm hoping that stitching will help make it easier.

Words, glorious words!

In the development stage of a new project that combines stitching and my love of words.

In heaven. Stitching writing by Byrony, Marcus and me.
It's early and I'm not sure where this piece is going, but I know that I love collecting favorite and meaningful words from people in my life and stitching them in simple backstitch with 321 Pearle Cotton on white muslin strips.

Word & handwriting by Andy.

I especially love stitching up other people's handwriting! There is something so intimate and wonderful about running my needle and thread over their letters.

Onomatopoeia. Words & handwriting by me.

And the variety of penmanship thrills me! There are folks who write in all caps, cursive, half-cursive/half printing... those who dot their i's with circles and those who don't close their letters.

Sydney's handwriting. Two people provided this same word to me!

Those who write in strong verticals and those who slant their words up or down.

Waiting to be stitched. Andy's word & handwriting.

Waiting to be stitched. Monique's word & handwriting.

And then their are the words themselves.

Word & handwriting by me.

Adjectives, names, body parts, alternative colors, slurs, onomatopoeia words... god, the variety thrills me.

My word & handwriting. Stitched but waiting to be rinsed.

So, please help me out! Leave me a comment with a favorite word or even email me a .jpeg of a word you like in your own handwriting.

Words & handwriting by Andy.

Word & handwriting by me.
More to come! Word Nerds United!!

Darwin is a big party boy!

The Evolution Cocktail Napkins are done for my Pops for his birthday!

Who says evolution isn't fun?

As I've written before, I saw this amazing and simple evolution pattern on the Coyote Craft blog a while back and I was instantly attracted to it. Bean Paulson designed it for Darwin Day back in 2009. Her original free pattern was the outline of an evolving man, minus the party theme. For some reason, when I came upon it, I thought of a celebration.

I'd like to share a cocktail with all of these creatures. You?

So, to her crisp, clear design, I added a party hat, Mardi Gras beads, a birthday crown and decadent, slightly raunchy elf boots. And I thought they would look nice on cocktail napkins.

Still think the booted man is kind of hot.

Stitched this up in simple, at times messy, back stitch with 321 pearle cotton. I do like the raw simplicity of this design.

Party with festive ardipithecus.
Or party with our erect friend, who I call Lyle.

My Pops is an amateur science nerd, albeit a very cool one. (My friends and I think nerds are uber cool, hot and sexy, even, but he is from a generation that may not appreciate the term.) In the 19th Century, and with a different bankroll, Pops might have been a gentleman scholar. I remember him explaining evolution to my brother and I when we were wee and living hardscramble, in a neighborhood pizza parlor in NYC. 

On the other side of the napkins, The Tree of Life.

I love Bean Paulson's use of the Tree of Life.

Stitched Tree of Life

Darwin's original

Happy Birthday to the world's wildest, coolest pops! (Don't get me started... it's hard to rebel when you have a wild Pops, but I tried!) May you drink many bottles of white while gripping these little napkins.

Wild Pops and The Kid (as he calls me).

And now I move onto my latest obsession: stitching words. Very simply. In red. Nerdy as hell, mofos. Can. Not. Stop.

Stitching Red Hot

Scarlet. Crimson. Vermillion. Cherry. Red is the new black. For me. In 2012.

I'm digging the simple pearle cotton back stitch on my evolution party cocktail napkins (slightly adapted from the wonderful Coyote Craft pattern found here) much better than the colored split stitch I'd been using. (Unfortunately, I lost the napkin that the birthday-hatted monkey was stitched on and I can't seem to find another matching napkin, but oh well.)

The erect man in the elf boots is kind of hot.

Surrounding myself in lots of red this year. I've decided that 2012 will be a red hot one. And I won't be stopped.

Received some fabulous red gifts recently.

Happy princess shoes from mami

The handmade resin necklace is by lulusmith from my foxy squeeze

Even stitching Darwin's Tree of Life in red feels right to me.

Cerise. Ruby. Claret. Rose. I want it all. 

Joo-lene is my sunshine

One of the most amazing people in my life is my friend Juline.

It is difficult to explain how much I love her and how talented and creative she is. Juline is beautiful, kind, smart and funny. She has an enviable career as a museum education curator at an amazing museum (the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University). On top of all of that, she has helped me through one of the most difficult periods of my life.

So, I made her a small Christmas present. A stitched version of how she spells her name phonetically on her name tags so that people know how to pronounce it. I stitched it on this Japanese cotton fabric that I adore.

Juline and I at the Geer St Garden

Juline and I have been each other's dates at many parties and events. It's funny to me that we both have such challenging, off-the-beaten-tract names. (I mostly go by "O" and I usually show people the tattoo inside my left wrist, so it is relatively easy for me.) But she explains her name clearly to the other party goers.

There is more to come about my sweet friend Juline. Especially about her wonderful fixation with hexagons. But for now, here we are.

And here is another Christmas present that I made for a very discrete, silver foxy friend that I'll say nothing else about. But I wanted to share my work, none-the-less.

Merry Christmas, kids!

Juline and I in a photo booth at the Nasher

This monkey has gone to heaven

This is a case where my execution hasn't lived up to the potential of the design.

I saw this amazing and simple evolution pattern on the Coyote Craft blog a while back and I was instantly attracted to it. Bean Paulson designed it for Darwin Day back in 2009. Her original free pattern was the outline of an evolving man, minus the party theme. For some reason, when I came upon it, I thought of a celebration.

So, to her crisp, clear design, I added a party hat, Mardi Gras beads, a birthday crown and decadent, slightly raunchy elf boots. And I thought they would look nice on cocktail napkins.

But as I've been stitching them, I've been disappointed with my own execution. And the split stitch I've been using.

But I still see a lot of potential in the design itself... just not on these plain cotton cocktail napkins. And not in this split stitch.

So, I'm casting about for a new ground fabric and a new stitch. I plan to keep my altered version of her pattern, but I need to find a new way to translate it into stitch.

(And, for the record, I think government and politics need more science as part of the discussion, not less. Sorry Santorum, but you're wrong. And will someone please ask Gingrich about his take on evolution? I need a laugh.)


Nicole, designer extraordinaire of Follow the White Bunny fame, knows how to deliver on hedgehogs.

Stitched up this little hedgie for my String Thing ornament swap. Her free pattern for it is found here. But do check out her blog and her pattern shop. I want everything I see!

Back to stitching or I'll never get these ornaments done...