Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Harry Potter Quilt - STILL not done...

I’m still working on the Harry Potter quilt... really. The more I do, and the closer I get to finishing, the more needs to be done. It makes no sense. I've lost several weekends to this thing, but you wouldn't guess it to look at it. It looks exactly like it did a month ago, in fact it might actually be regressing. I swear I've beaded the same seam like like ten times... 

I spent the day working from my living room and trying to convince my shins to speak to me again. The first part is because my office building was a little too close to some scary fire in back bay and it STILL doesn't have power. The second is because the power went out last night while I was working late, the elevators were kaput so I had to walk down more flights of stairs than I care to remember. The upshot is that I made real progress on this quilt... not that you can tell.  

Anyway, more photos... 

The Weasley's car

An owl, Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, Gryffindor lion and Crookshanks

Fawkes the Phoenix!

the silver doe, spiders and the whomping willow

owl post!

Professor McGonagall (as a cat)

Hogwarts crest, Hedwig and the Potter's grave

The sorting hat and the goblet of fire

If you're starting to doubt that I can finish a quilt, never fear, I have proof! Take a look at my facebook page for evidence. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Silk Ribbon Roses: Easier Than You Think

I love silk ribbon roses. They’re one of the most striking things you can do with ribbon embroidery; they’re also one of the easiest. It’s basically just a process of making a spoke and weaving the ribbon over and under the spokes. 
Start by making a spoke using a shade of thread that matches the ribbon you plan on using, though the thread won’t ultimately be visible so don’t agonize over finding exactly the right shade. You’ll need to make an odd number of spokes. I usually go with five but for smaller roses you can use three, for really large ones you can use seven. 
Kinda hard to see the spoke... trust me it's there
Bring your ribbon up through the center of the spokes and begin weaving it over and under your spokes. 

As is often the case with embroidery, maintaining the correct tension is the trickiest part. You want to keep the ribbon tight enough to avoid knots but loose enough that the rose looks natural. It gets easier with practice.
Sometimes the ribbon will twist as you weave it. It’s not a problem so don’t obsess over trying to keep it straight. 
There is no set number of rotations, just keep going until the spokes are covered and the rose looks the way you want it to. More rotations will give you rose a more tightly wound look. 
If you run out of ribbon you can always bring your ribbon through the back, knot it, and then pick up where you left off with new ribbon. You can also switch colors midway through for a two-tone look. 
Once you’re happy with your rose, bring the ribbon through to the back side of the fabric and knot it. I usually try to bring it through over one of the spoke ends which helps to further disguise them. If any of them are still visible you can hide them with leaves.
That’s all there is to it. Easy right?

no idea what I'm going to do with this... mothers day card maybe?


A few months ago I made this:

I didn't hate it, but I certainly didn't love it. I listed it on etsy and almost immediately started to debate deactivating it. A dissatisfied customer is one of my biggest fears and while I haven't had one yet (or at least I haven't had a vocal one) I'm sure I will eventually. When that day comes I want to at least be sure that I loved what they bought, even if they didn't. I couldn't say that with this pin, so I took it off the site.

This moment of decisive, confident action was followed by 2 months of anxious over analyzing, which is a specialty of mine. There was nothing wrong with this brooch. I just didn't love it, but maybe someone else would. The photos were clear and not at all misleading, so if anyone bought it they'd know what they were getting. I'd spent money on the frame and fabric, not to mention time creating it. Did it really make sense not to at least try to sell it? So I reactivated the listing.

Then I had second (third?) thoughts and deactivated it again.

I repeated this process four times before finally deciding to just remake the whole thing. Here is the result:

What do you think? Upgrade? Downgrade? Totally not worth the time I spend agonizing over it? In case you're wondering... I vote for option 3. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

New Directions... this post has nothing to do with Glee

I love making silk ribbon jewelry. I really do. I also love all the feedback I get. Feedback like...  “my grandma is going to love this!” “I gave this to my wife for our 50th anniversary!” “I’m going to wear this to my granddaughters wedding!” etc. 
That the majority of my market is considerably older than me doesn’t bother me. In fact I take pride in it. Honestly, I’ll take praise wherever I can get it and I’ve always thought the older generation has fantastic taste... there is a reason everyone loves Mad Men... the fashions are spectacular. 

That said, I’m ready to try new things. What do you think? 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Embroidery Samplers: A Study in Passive Aggression

I have a problem with most needlepoint samplers. To me they come off as condescending reminders to be polite, frugal, respectful, etc. No matter how delicate the script, or how many butterflies are stitched around it, there is no getting away from the fact that it's really just a smug reminder that you are somehow deficient. I see them and think, “someone spent hours stitching a passive aggressive note?”
I grew up with lots of samplers. In our house it always something vaguely threatening written in Norwegian (my grandmother is Norwegian and in addition to incredible talent she also has a lot of free time... hence the samplers). 
ok, i guess this is technically advice...
Anyway, I didn’t understand why there are so many of these until recently, when I started to really pursue embroidery as a hobby. The fact of the matter is, it’s hard to find practical applications for embroidery. Yes, you can embroider clothes and purses and other accessories, but that means you have to either find or make those things in the first place. The beauty of a sampler is that you just start with a blank piece of fabric and go from there. You never had to bother with that epitome of all frustration: the sewing machine. But then you’re left with the question, “what is this for?” 
I ask myself that question constantly. So far I’ve resisted asking it of any of my customers... but it’s been a close thing. I honestly want to know what people are planning to do with my random quote embroidered on plain fabric and glued to a hoop... 
Don’t get me wrong, I love making these and I’m happy they’re appreciated... but the question still lingers. I think that’s where the trend of embroidering bible verses or morality couplets came from. It gives your work a purpose... a pretty obnoxious purpose, but a purpose nonetheless...

Or maybe the people who make these things really do think that, without their help, you’ll forget how important it is to love thy neighbor or wipe your feet. Maybe they’re the kind of people who write angry notes about keeping the office microwave clean and try to hide their aggression by dotting their i’s with hearts. 
Of course, whenever there is a tradition, especially one as stupid as this one, there people trying to subvert it. Especially when that subversion is cute or funny or profitable. Take a look on etsy, there are plenty of (not so) surprisingly crude samplers for sale. I can’t decide how I feel about it. On the one hand, if it keeps my hobby relevant (or as close to relevant as it’s ever going to get) I’m all over it. On the other, this is a traditional art, one my grandma taught me and one that is still mostly appreciated by the older generation. I don’t want to ruin it for them. I also don’t want to be crude for the sake of being crude. That’s what junior high is for. 

But, then I remember those people carefully reminding me what a “stitch in time” can do, and I kind of want to write “BLOW ME” in beautiful, carefully measured cable stitch surrounded by delicate silk ribbon flowers. But I won’t. At least not yet.