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...

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.

Sketches for the Great Curve & a Stitchgasm

Still in the sketching phase of a self portrait. I know that I need to make the move onto fabric and just start thread sketching. Moving slowly but I'm making progress.

Playing with the image against blue Balinese batik

I envision the piece on the blue Balinese batik ground fabric above. I think. I'm attracted to the watery colors with patterns of plant life upon it.  Trying to simply the image my friend Alex took in May 2011. Layering it on the fabric and on other sheets of paper. I just need a basic outline and then I'll let the stitching guide me.

Simplified outline pattern

I think I'll go with this very basic sketch to start with and take it from there. Removed the fingers from my shoulder and changed the hair, which was in a pony tail. This is a slow-going project. I'm  playing and sketching with thread.

With the holidays coming, I have all sorts of simple stitched gifts to make for friends and family. Luxuriating stitching simple things for my loved ones. But I can't show the work in progress here because I don't want to ruin any surprises. I can say that I'm stitching names, words, lightening, clouds, bears, squirrels and rabbits... but that's all that I'll say!

Spinach quiche for my fiber arts group

Been cooking and baking a lot and experimenting with new tools, like the pie cutters I used to make the leaf design above. Trying to bring visual pleasure to the experience of tasting my food. Hardly an original concept! Haven't been an overly hearty eater of late -- the stress of this year killed my appetite but as I get happier, it is coming roaring back. But I love food and preparing for people I care about. And trying to make it as lovely for them as I can.

On the inter webs front, I was uber geeked to be featured in a Stitchgasm from MrXStitch for my Do Not Eat! and Do Not Enter! hazard signs! And I'm grateful to Denise Fenton at www.craftgossip.com for blogging about my Big Yes! features. I have a new Big Yes! in the works that is going to blow your freaking minds, peeps! Keep an eye out.

Finally, take a listen to the Talking Heads The Great Curve. As David Byrne sings: The world turns on a woman's hips.

Stitch, bake, dream & a Nerd Girl self-portrait

Crazy productive weekend.

Stitching the chain stitch edge

Finished stitching the Phat Quarter Do Not Eat piece for Salvaged Mutiny.  It is washed and drying. Tomorrow I will press and hoop it and send it off to her. FINALLY!

Gnome boot for Maeve

Made a little pair of gnome booties for Brooklyn Maeve's Halloween costume. Will ship these off to my girl Erin tomorrow.

Baked and ready to be devoured

Baked my first ever galette (tomato, basil, sea salt and cheeses) for my fiber arts group, Durham String Thing. They seemed to like it! Thanks to Keefie and Julia Childs for the recipe. A friend will get one this week just for him.

Uncooked galette

Hoofed my way through the Day of the Dead 5K Race in Raleigh with the fabulous Juline. My time? Let's just say, I'm not speedy, I'm enduring. I'd tell you my age and weight before I'll tell you my race time! (Actually, I'm pretty open about both of those, so not good comparisons, but I'm tired.)

I know it's girlie, but I love lush flowers

After the race, Juline went to the Durham Farmers' Market, where I bought my galette ingredients and my flowers for the week. Dahlias in deep pinks.

My only complaint is that I was alone so much. After six months of living by myself, I'm still getting used to this. I spent the days with my iphone on shuffle. Utopia by Goldfrapp brought me special pleasure.

Thinking about new projects... portraits, both my mother's and a new self portrait. Dreamt about an affectionate red dragon that kept burning my skin.

Feeling hopeful and playful.

Nerd Girl self portrait

Holla, peeps!

Remind me of this gift when I'm lost

Woke up crazy creative and hyper visual today. I see patterns, textures and outlines of drawings to be stitched everywhere I look.

Da Vinci, Study of a Hand

Played with a friend’s hand it kept looking like a beautiful Da Vinci sketch... his fingers curled in the most elegant, graceful way. I saw his hand stitched in red thread on cream cloth.

I take a lot of photos of myself.

Looked at my own outstretched, bare leg and saw a painting. My kneecap a sea of chain stitch on canvas. 

I'm a constantly available subject & I do whatever I
tell myself to do!

Even my fingertips seem to have eyes… Touching my own ribs and hip bone, I can almost see them drawn and stitched onto fabric, blue tattoo and all.

Looked at veins on leaves at the plant store and saw rivers, highways and train tracks stitched out over mottled, green-dyed fabric.

The texture of my own lips wants to be rendered in deep red thread on cotton.

Sometimes life is bitter and sad and I feel like my eyes are oversized and full of blue rue, like an Edward Gorey woodcut of some lost orphan.

And then there are times like this weekend when, despite what I know are challenges and overwhelming losses in my life this year, despite even my not-too-infrequent loneliness, I’m given a gift from the universe… Having my senses turned up and seeing beauty all around me. I am so grateful. 

And when I’m gripped with fear of being alone, being completely and wholly unlovable, and like I’ll never create anything again, I need to remember weekends like this. Moments like this.

Please remind me.    

Inspiration Sponge, or, Two books that are BLOWING my mind

Money is tight so I spent a quiet night at home instead of taking myself out for a drink and I'm so happy I did.

Just released! by Jamie Chalmers

Gorgeous book by Katharine Harmon

Quick post about two books that I've been devouring this evening: Push Stitchery: 30 Artists Explore the Boundaries of Stitched Art (Jamie Chalmers, a.k.a. MrXStitch) and You are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination (Katharine Harmon).

Quantum Entanglement (2009) by Orly Cogan

I will be exploring and writing about these two beautiful volumes for ages because the images are intoxicating and capture my imagination like nothing I've seen in weeks.

Fairy Tale (2006) by Orly Cogan

Chalmers' book features so many of my favorite artist/stitchers (Bascom HogueJoetta Maue & Penny Nickles, to name a few) and exposes me to the astonishing work of many artists who are new to me.

Contour Map of Identical Female Twins
Face to Face (date unknown)
Dr. Robin Williams

Harmon's book is not about stitched or textile art. It collects and reflects upon different kinds of personal map making and features the art of a wide range of new (again, to me) artists creating images of maps.

Druksland Physical and Social 15 January 1974
(1974) by Michael Druks

To say that I adore personal map making is an understatement. I often sketch my own maps, rudimentary scribbles of my love life, my passion for particular men, my crazy geography of desire, for example. And yes, I want to stitch these private images.

Mapping emotion on my back? self portrait (2011)
Thinking about stitching a map on this theme of desire and passion for a man onto this image of my back that I haven't worked with in a while. Or, perhaps, my heartbreak. My fears.

So many ideas! Perhaps being broke and needing to spend more quiet nights at home, alone, isn't a bad thing. I can stitch my way through the lean times.

Back to my stitch-speration. Love to all. 

Initial Pencil Lines on My Back... Leading to Stitches, I hope

Unable to sleep, so I played a bit with pencil marks, which I'd like to translate into stitches, on a self-portrait of my back.

Thinking about stitching lines and and swirls. Very rough and preliminary. I can see the beginnings of a twisted, almost snake-like scroll down my spinal column. I like where that is going. And big bowed shapes along my shoulder blades. The simple lines of hair remind me of a fountain But the parenthesis of rib lines... these are just beginnings of ideas.

And the hip lines I'm completely unsure about. Maybe there doesn't need to be anything there at all. Maybe I should let that be an empty expanse of space and not embellish it at all with marks, lines and stitches. I'll have to play with the image some more when I get back into town from my trip to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia to see my beloved Keefie.

As very rough and basic as it is, it feels good to be sketching again. Oh, yes.

I’m alive and stitching again!

So, I’ve been in the middle of some dramatic personal changes in my life that somehow don’t seem entirely appropriate for this blog, but I’m about being a honest person and an honest maker, so I’m going to share a few personal things.

In the last few months I’ve gone through some major changes.  I’ve moved out of my home and I’m living on my own for the first time ever in my life. I’m separated from my husband of many years. I’m trying to find my way in the world as an independent, single person. Parts of this are terrifying. Parts are thrilling. I realize that this is something that women do every single day, but to me it is a huge freaking deal. Throughout this time I’ve been really struggling with finding a place for my creativity in my life. My making and stitching and drawing have been minimal, but always there. I know that it is going to take a while for me to get this going again and it will come and go in fits and starts, but I’m happy to say that I’m working on two projects again. Finally!

The first is this embroidered pair of boxers for a friend of mine. The design is from an ancient Greek image of an octopus. I have big, totally playful intentions for this very personal piece. I love the idea of making something that is worn under the clothes. It may get a little racy.


The second is a self-portrait based on a series of photos that I took of my own naked back reclining in my new bed, on my new berry-colored sheets. After I tried many images, my darling friend Alex helped me photograph it more clearly than I could do with my tripod and self-timer. And my sweet friend Juline helped me pick out some good ground fabric. For now, I’m just posting about the gift for my friend, but I’ll soon blog about the new self-portrait I’m doing.

It feels amazing to be back stitching, drawing and creating again! Thank you SO MUCH to my friends, my parents and the amazing online community for being so supportive as I find my way in my new life!!


I'm an Oak - Stitch/sketch self portrait

I've dreamt many times about finding my face in hidden places.

Momentarily frozen in the desert sand or scraped into the paint of a peeling, city shack.

The most amazing and frightening dream was that I stumbled on an injured deer in a forest and she had my face.

My self portrait sketch became my face trapped in the bark of an oak.

I want to make more of these portraits with more careful stitching.  Stitching is such a slow process... it was fun and freeing to approach this piece as a sketch. I made large, looping split stitches to outline the bark.  I took a little more care with my face, but I didn't sweat each stab of the needle like I normally do.

But still, the process is slow.  To get more detail, color and shading for this image... that will take even more time.  I can document the deterioration of my face for the next 30 years.

This is exciting.

First attempt for thread sketches, self portrait

I'm making my first thread sketches for my self portrait based on the photo in my previous post

I've already learned so much.  The same aspects of my aging face that annoy me in my 3D life actually excite me in terms of drawing and stitching.  The nasal-labial folds, the little lines under my eyes, the small bump on the bridge of my nose and that weird little dimple in the middle of my chin... these things actually make my face more interesting.

I find myself thinking that, without these imperfections, I would actually kind of have a boring face!

This is just a sketch.  Using 2 strands of DMC black floss on light gray Kona Cotton (backed with white muslin.) Lots of details to add, still, in single strands of floss. Feeling oddly grateful for my little wrinkles.

I'm disappointed that it is so hard for me to blog during they work week.  By the time I get home it is so dark and, while I can work on stuff, it is hard to photograph.  As Spring comes and the day light lasts longer, I will hopefully overcome that.

In addition to the self portraiture, I'm hoping to start a Springtime Biohazard series.  Oh, when will I win the lottery!?

Self portrait sketches in pencil then stitch

Sent off my piece to New Zealand this morning for Jo from the Phat Quarter Music swap.  I've never worked so long and hard on a piece as I have on that one.  I just hope that Jo likes it.  I'll post photos once it arrives safely in New Zealand.

I've just been amazed by the awesome embroideries that have been exchanged in this swap.


Now I'm feeling a little adrift.  I want to try some embroidered self portraits.  Here is an image that I want to translate into stitch.  I'm just doing pencil sketches and next I'll do thread sketches.

This is fun.