Golden State

The year after I graduated college, I drove cross country with my high school best friend (highly recommended) from California to Maine in 2.5 days (the timeline is less recommended, but I had a scheduling crunch). During our journey, one of the things we decided we wanted to do was learn the nickname of every state we passed through - the road signs made it clear that Utah was the “Beehive State”, we asked a waitress in Wyoming to learn it was the “Cowboy State.” We passed though the “Hawkeye State” (Iowa) , the “Keystone State” (Pennsylvania), the” Empire State” (New York) and the “Bay State” (Massachusetts), among others before finally arriving in The Pine Tree State (Maine), but the land I left behind in 2005 was the “Golden State.”

Since moving out east, I’ve been a regular visitor to California about ever other year, but I’ve been thinking a lot more about California recently. 2019 marks the year that I’ve lived outside of California longer than I’ve lived in it. It’s the 15 year anniversary of my father’s death. It’s the year I went out to show Little Miss Cleaver my hometown for the first time and to see my mother for what is likely the last. I came back from my most recent trip with two shoeboxes full of family photos. I’m feeling a little nostalgic to say the least.

So, as is only natural for a creative, I’m digging into that nostalgia and reflecting on the Golden State in my designs. Exploring bits of my person history and the history of the state at large, considering how the 31st state in the Union shaped me and shaped the country. There’s a lot to mine there (pun intended!) and honestly, a lot of emotion, so instead of trying to pull together a collection with a set deadline, I’ll be working on this project over the course of the year, releasing things as they are ready and telling the story in bits and pieces as I go.

I’ll start with the first release in the collection - “All That Is Beautiful.”

When I chose to focus my next batch of designs on the Golden State, I knew that John Muir was going to show up somewhere.

My dad and brother, both Eagle Scouts, were/are outdoorsy people with a particular love of the Sierra Nevada, so I grew up well acquainted with the legacy of Muir and once visited his homestead when my brother was doing research for a school biography project. 

For those unfamiliar with Muir, he was a Scottish-American naturalist and writer who championed preservation, was instrumental in the establishment of Yosemite National Park, and co-founded the Sierra Club. Unfortunately, Muir also prioritized natural preservation over the native people who lived in those environments and the creation of Yosemite evicted the Ahwahneechee and other portions of the Southern Sierra Miwok from their native lands. An act that was repeated with other National Parks.*

Muir was a prolific and often poetic writer, and this quote from a state promotional brochure published by the California State Board of Trade, particularly struck me in several ways. It is important to examine the full impact, both positive and negative, of the people and places we respect. I look at this quote and it serves as reminder to me that there is beauty in all nature (which I take to include all life, including human and animal), but also that we can overemphasize an unrealistic idea of “wild” - since there are very few places not impacted by humans and that not all human impact is negative. It’s part of reason I chose a brown for the text rather than a sharper black, because not everything is black and white. It was only natural to pair the text with the California Poppy - the state flower that grows wild in profusion in the state.

The design is available as a complete kit, printed panel, or PDF pattern in my shop.

As a small acknowledgement that there were many other residents of California before the Americans arrived, a minimum 15% donation of profits from any Golden State collection item will be donated to charities that support self-determination and community/economic development led by and for Native Californian and Latinx peoples, including the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples and the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

*For more on the Native American History of Yosemite and the displacement and erasure of Native Peoples from National Parks, check out the following resources as a starting point:
https://www.fresnobee.com/news/special-reports/yosemite-at-150/article19521750.html
https://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/erasing-native-americans-from-national-parks/



Print Friendly and PDF Follow
follow us in feedly

Introducing STORYTIME

Opening the Book on the Storytime Collection

My mother was an elementary school librarian, so my childhood was filled with all sorts of children's literature modern and classic. The Storytime Collection draws it’s inspiration from some of my favorite pieces of classic children's literature and might include some of your favorites too! 

The collection, which includes a sweater, gloves, two embroidery designs and a sewing pattern, is available as kits, pattern bundles and stand-alone patterns and has projects suitable for beginners to more advanced makers.

Goldenbook Cardigan

The Saggy Baggy Elephant, Tawny Scrawny Lion, Poky Little Puppy – since the first Little Golden Book was released in 1942, these titles and many more have become classics read by multiple generations.

Inspired by the iconic spine of Little Golden Books, a long band of colorwork forms a statement collar on an open-front cardigan. Knit from the top-down, the pattern uses the contiguous method to form a well-fitting one-piece yoke and is finished with clean folded hems and deep pockets. The pattern is available in bust sizes up to 56.5"/143.5 cm and includes helpful fit tips throughout the pattern to get the best fit for your body. 

Can be purchased as bundle with the Turning Leaf Gloves.

Turning Leaf Gloves

In the early days of publishing, a sheet of paper with printing on both pages/sides was commonly referred to as a leaf - a less popular usage now, but one that lives on in phrases like “to turn a new leaf, ”loose-leaf” paper, and the French word feuille. The Turning Leaf gloves were inspired by the gilded leaves of hefty leather-covered tomes (be they the Bible or The Wonderful Land of Oz), this inspiration reflected in graceful pleats that shape the hands of these vintage-style gloves.

Gloves are worked from the cuff to the fingers. The cuff is worked flat, with the hand and fingers worked in the round.

Can be purchased as bundle with the Goldenbook Cardigan.

Little Readers Embroidery & Ms. Marian Pillow

Is there anything better than cozying up with a good book?

The Little Readers are vintage-inspired designs that use a single color to create a strong outline, a technique known as redwork (or bluework, depending on the color). The paired-down design is a great introductory project for beginning embroiderers and would make a wonderful gift for the book-lover in your life.

Named for The Music Man’s Marian The Librarian, the Ms. Marian Pillow turns your hoop art into cozy and beautiful home decor. Mitered corners and a checkerboard band increase the elegance of the design, which is suitable for intermediate sewists.

Instructions are included for a standard envelope pillowcase and a tote-able reading pillow with book pocket. The sewing pattern includes template/pattern for both Boy and Girl Little Reader embroideries and is a perfect companion to any of my 6” hoop designs or kits. Not into embroidery? Use the center panel to display an 7” square quilt block or panel of a favorite fabric.

The Ms. Marian Pillow Kit provides you with all the materials (minus pillowform) to make one beautifully embroidered, library-themed pillowcase. You can choose to sew it up as a standard envelope-back pillow, or (my favorite) as a tote-able reading pillow with book pocket.



Print Friendly and PDF Follow
follow us in feedly

STORYTIME - Coming Soon!

If I’ve been quiet around here, it’s because I’ve been busy! Busy with work. Busy with transitioning Little Miss Cleaver into Kindergarten and busy with pulling together the pieces of my next collection - STORYTIME.

STORYTIME is inspired by some of my favorite classic children’s books, including Little Golden Books and The Wizard of OZ series. The collection will include two new knitting patterns (one adult sweater, one accessory), two new embroidery patterns/kits and a sewing pattern/kit perfect for spotlighting your favorite embroidery.

After a lot of time sketching and developing ideas, I’m finishing up samples and getting patterns written and reviewed. There’s still a lot of work left to to (it’s a lot to pull together for one person!), but I expect to release the collection in October.

Until then, you can follow my progress on Instagram and if you sign up for the newsletter, you’ll get to know about the collection release early with a special subscriber-only discount!

Back to stitching for me!


Print Friendly and PDF Follow
follow us in feedly

Cherries, Chickadees, and Ms. Billingsley

2018-07-26 12.33.19.jpg

We're already halfway through August, which means that I've already got holiday crafting on the brain (not that I'll start on it for months yet, but I'm thinking about it...). For those of you who are a bit more forward-planning, my 2018 holiday design, Chickadee and Pine is now available, along with all my other wintery-woodland designs, to get a kick-start on that crafting. 

I've also got something else new that I'm super excited to share with you - my first sewing pattern! The Ms. Billingsley Apron (named for June Cleaver herself, Barbara Billingsley) is the answer to the question "but what do I do with the embroidery after I've finished it?"

Designed to fit any of my 6" hoop designs, the easy-to-sew, but elegantly finished Ms. Billingsley apron can also be used to show off a single quilt block or panel of a favorite fabric. You can find the pattern as a downloadable PDF (complete with Bowl of Cherries template), or I've assembled some kits featuring the sample fabrics shown above paired with a Bowl of Cherries complete embroidery kit


Print Friendly and PDF Follow
follow us in feedly

Lazy River Embroidery Collection

Is it possible to be nostalgic for a life you've never lived?

My idea of the perfect summer, for better or worse seems to be heavily colored by Country Time Lemonade commercials and reruns of the Andy Griffith Show that both played in heavy rotation during summer mornings in the late 1980s - I think summer should be swimming holes and floating docks in lakes and, yes, inner-tubing (with real tire inner tubes) down a lazy river. 

I can only recall actually inner-tubing on a real river (instead of, say, at Raging Waters) once - but I wouldn't mind kicking off my sandals, and going for a long float down a shady river. Until that opportunity pops, up I'll content myself with this trio of stitched ladies acting as my proxy. 

Want to stitch up your own lazy summer? Pick your favorite floating beauty or stitch up all three for a summery triptych - each kit comes with a range of five hair tones (silver, blonde, red, light brown, and black) and three skins tones (light, medium, and dark) to personalize your hoop art. 

 

Lazy River - Complete Kits
from 9.00
Materials:
Design:
Quantity:
Add To Cart
Print Friendly and PDF Follow
follow us in feedly

Embroidery 201: Coloring Your Embroidery

Coloring Embroidery v1.png
Try Embroidery

I often describe doing embroidery as "Coloring with Thread" and more specifically, to think about working satin stitch as coloring with a very sharp colored pencil.  Turning that one it's head, today I'm going to talk about how to color your embroidery with colored pencils, crayons, and watercolors.

All the coloring implements used in this tutorial are your basic Crayola crayons, colored pencils, and watercolors, which I borrowed from my five year old (like you do). The techniques will work with whatever materials you have on have, but I chose to use the Crayola products because they're inexpensive and widely available - all of which is to say, you don't need fancy art supplies to make these techniques work. 

Skin tones in colored pencil makes the suits "pop"

Skin tones in colored pencil makes the suits "pop"

Skin tone in satin stitch makes a bolder statement

Skin tone in satin stitch makes a bolder statement

If embroidery is like coloring, why would you want to color your embroidery? 

A reasonable question.

One of the great things about embroidery is that is provides a fabulous texture and dimension to your work, but that texture isn't always want you want. For me, this usually happens in regards to skin and backgrounds.  I don't want a heavily textured background, because I want my primary image to "pop." I don't always want to stitch in the skin tone, because it can make the skin look "lumpy". 

Other times, it may just be that your hoop needs a bit more color, and you don't fill like satin stitching inches of sky or dirt. Either way, it's a good technique to have in your toolbox. 

A few things to keep in mind when using any of the three techniques below:

  • Test your color on a corner of your fabric - it may not look the same as on paper.
  • Just because the crayon/pencil/marker/etc says it's washable, doesn't mean that it's totally washable. Once you start coloring, you're probably committed, so keep that in mind and test first.
  • It's  easier to color your fabric before you do the stitching. I'm terrible at following this tip, but it is true.  And if worse comes to worse, you can always cover up a color you don't like with stitching, rather than having to pull out stitching because your watercolors bled. 

 

Crayon

  • Crayons give a nice soft color and are easy to blend and build to darker colors.
  • The higher the amount of pigment the better - avoid waxy crayons.  
  • Crayons will pick up on any texture under them including the texture of the fabric. You can use this to your advantage - if, for example, you want a wood grain texture, place your fabric on top of a piece of plywood. If you don't want additional texture, make sure to work on a smooth surface.

Colored Pencils

  • This is my personal favorite, easy to do, hard to screw up. 
  • The fine point of a pencil makes it easier to do detail work, especially if you've already stitched your piece.
  • It won't pick up texture as much as crayon, but tends to create stroke lines. 
  • Build in layers to get darker tones.

Watercolor

The prettiest results are often the trickiest techniques. With watercolor, you're essentially spot-dying the fabric and it can be tricky to control. I literally went through four versions to get this technique right for this tutorial - so try on scrap fabric and don't get frustrated if you don't get it the first time. 

Some tips for success:

  • I'd only recommend watercolor for larger areas.
  • Put a dry paper towel under the fabric - it will soak up the extra fluid and help control the bleed.
  • Try to get your brush as dry as possible when working near the edges of the design.
  • Barely touch the brush to the fabric. A tiny touch is all that's needed for the fabric to wick the fluid/color off the brush.
  • Work from the outside in and start at least a quarter inch out from the line you're trying to color up to. This will give you a chance to figure out how much the fabric bleeds.
  • Embrace the imperfections. Watercolor is going to give a mottled effect - if you want a solid color, go with crayon or pencils. 
  • Let the work dry completely before adding additional layers of color or beginning stitching.

Experiment and Have Fun!

Using traditional art supplies can be a fun way to add color to your embroidery pieces. And don't limit yourself to these three - try markers! Glitter glue! Have a mixed media field day!! 

To get started on the next step of the process, check out the tutorials below or click here for a downloadable PDF of basic stitches


Seed Sower
from 9.00
Print Friendly and PDF Follow
follow us in feedly

Introducing WILDFLOWER

WILDFLOWER  A Ms Cleaver Collection

I'm pleased to announce the launch of my Spring 2018 collection: WILDFLOWER

Consisting of three new embroidery designs and three new knit designs, WILDFLOWER is a floral inspired walk through the season: a cozy cardigan for those early days of spring when the wind still bites, socks and shawls for warmer days, and embroidery designs that go from seed to vase. 

Projects range from beginner-friendly to the more complex. Over the next few weeks, I'll also be sharing some tutorials to provide extra support for these designs, from coloring your embroidery, to colorwork tips, and to reading a lace chart. 

Each pattern in WILDFLOWER can be purchased individually, or as part of a complete kit featuring high-quality materials. As a special bonus for this collection, I've partnered with Nabi Wool Studio in Switzerland and Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn Co. in Canada to bring you hand-dyed yarn kits for the Rambling Eden Shawl and Bracteole Socks. Interested in a Cormous Cardigan Kit? Pre-orders are open now through the end of the month.

The knitting patterns can be purchased as an e-book for $16.00 USD or individually ($6-$8 USD). Likewise, the embroidery designs can be purchased as a set for 20% off the individual price.  

Flip through the lookbook below, or check out the shop


Print Friendly and PDF Follow
follow us in feedly

Growing WILDFLOWER(s)

Even as I'm preparing to plant my first real seeds of the season, my next pattern collection is rapidly growing. 

I'm now less than a month away from launching WILDFLOWER, which means I'm neck-deep in partially-finished samples, pattern edits and kit supplies. Mr. Cleaver is being extremely patient about the number of project bags and cardboard boxes littering our house at moment. 

But even in the midst of all this chaos, the beauty of it all, like a bud peaking out of the dirt, is apparent and I'm relishing all the time I'm getting to spend with these beautiful threads and yarns in their vernal greens, pinks and purples. 

To be the first to know when this collection launches, which includes some limited-edition hand-dyed kits, sign up for my newsletter below. You'll receive a special discount and a free garden planning template (excel) as my thank you to you!


Print Friendly and PDF Follow
follow us in feedly

Planting Seeds for WILDFLOWER

The WOODLAND collection came together as a collection more or less by accident. I had a few designs I wanted to do and as I was working on them, I realized that they had a similar theme, so I decided to go with the flow. That said, I quickly learned that I liked working in the collection format - even if it mean photographing a half dozen things in about 45 minutes. So when I starting thing about where I wanted to go with my design work, doing more in the collection format immediately sprung to the top of list. 

And so, in December, I started thinking Spring. 

WILDFLOWER seemed like a good good follow up to woodland theme, so I started gathering images and thinking about what the collection would be. I also knew I wanted my work to be more collaborative this year, so I'm partnering with indie dyers NabiWoolStudio and RedSockBlueSock for two of the knitwear designs. At this point, all the planning stuff is pretty much done and I'm deep in pattern writing and sample making. There will be three new knitwear designs and three embroidery hoops and it's all going to be so pretty!

So wish me luck as I furiously stitch and try to find a spring-esque photoshoot location in Maine in Feb/March!

Inspiration images from top to bottom:

  • Andrew Wyeth's Around the Corner
  • Old farmer sowing seeds from traditional apron, Hilltown, Co. Down, 1970s, Bobbie Hanvey, photographer.
  • "Miss Rumphius" by Barbara Cooney


Print Friendly and PDF Follow
follow us in feedly

Winter Warm Up Sale!

It's blizzard conditions here in Maine today, but even so, I'm focused on spring. At least design-wise, that is.

I'm hard at work pulling together my spring collection; WILDFLOWER, which means I could use some more space in the "Studio"/spare bedroom - so I've put a bunch of my winter kits, patterns, samples, and more on sale in the shop.  The items listed here are just a handful of the sale goods, so be sure to look around before the end of the sale on January 12th. And if you're more of a Ravelry person, all the WOODLAND patterns are 20% off for the same period, no code needed.

I get some space and you get some cozy knits for the long stretch of winter still to come. WIn-win!!

Print Friendly and PDF Follow
follow us in feedly